NEW TRIPOLI, LEHIGH COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s been a day of communal mourning in the Lehigh Valley.
An enormous crowd of first responders, family, and friends, and even strangers filled a school auditorium as they paid final respects to a pair of fallen firefighters killed in the line of duty.
An emotional tribute inside Northwestern Lehigh Middle School to remember two firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice: Community Fire company of New Tripoli Firefighters Zachary Paris and Marvin Gruber.
“They were part of our community. Marvin had grown up in our community, has lived here his whole life. Zach, he grew up in Blanden, which isn’t too far from us, and has lived here for a good number of years now. We’re a very tight community and they were both very well respected,” explained Bill McQuilken, President of Community Fire Company of New Tripoli.
The community devotedly lined the sidewalks of the school to pay their respects during the viewing and funeral services.
“It’s been a tremendous support of our department, our families, and it’s been overwhelming to see the support of our community coming out to support Zach and Marvin,” McQuilken continued.
“They deserve every bit of it because not every person is going to run into a burning building and just throw everything to the side and not think twice,” added Dillon Eyler, a probationary firefighter from Frederick County, Maryland.
Paris and Gruber did exactly that earlier this month when they battled a house fire near Tamaqua. Both men became trapped inside. Even though they were rescued, they died from their injuries.
Firefighters came to honor their two brothers from near and far.
“No matter what county or state, that us a fire service, the brotherhood, we’re gonna be there for the families anytime from here on out,” explained Lieutenant Michael Knight.
“Neighboring counties are here, people that didn’t even know them as well. That just shows you how the brotherhood works. All you have to do is know that that person has the same goal as you. Fight fire, save lives,” Eyler said.
Keeping the duo’s memory alive is what’s on the mind of firefighters, including someone who worked alongside Paris in Maryland.
“I just want his legacy to keep continuing along with the firefighters affected in this fire. I hope we can learn from the tragedy that happened and move forward,” Eyler stated.
The New Tripoli fallen heroes were honored by an entire school full of people for their bravery and for sacrificing their lives for their community.
The cause of the fire that killed the two firefighters is still unknown but is considered ‘suspicious.’