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Update on Houston memorial service for fallen firefighters
HOUSTON - by Michelle Homer/KHOU 11 News and www.khou.com
Some 40,000 mourners packed Reliant Stadium Wednesday to honor four Houston firefighters killed last week in a massive hotel fire.
They stood somberly and some 3,000 firefighters throughout Reliant Stadium saluted as victims' families entered one by one.
"To the families that are here, we cannot fully know your grief. You have paid an unimaginable price," an emotional Mayor Annise Parker told them.
Anthony Livesay, one of 15 firefighters injured in the blaze, was rolled in on a stretcher. He was allowed to leave the hospital to attend the memorial. Capt. William Dowling, the most critically injured, remains at Memorial Hermann Hospital where he continues to fight for his life.
You can watch the memorial service live on KHOU 11 or onKHOU.com starting at 10 a.m.
Friday was deadliest day in the Houston Fire Department’s 118-year history.
"Your loved ones gave other people at chance at life. We are blessed to live in a world with dedication like that," Texas Gov. Rick Perry told the families.
Killed in the 5-alarm Southwest Inn fire were: Capt. Matthew Renaud, 35, who had been with the department for 11½ years; engineer operator Robert Bebee, 41, who joined the department almost 12 years ago; firefighter Robert Garner, 29, who joined the department 2½ years ago; and Anne Sullivan, 24, a probationary firefighter who had graduated in April from the Houston Fire Department Academy.
"They boldly march into harm's way to save lives," Gov. Perry said. "It is our responsibility to offer what comfort we can to those who are closest to them."
Fire trucks from Houston Fire Department Station 51 and 68, where the fallen firefighters worked, were placed inside the Reliant Stadium as a tribute.
"It's always too soon to say goodbye to a fallen hero. It breaks our hearts to say goodbye to four," Mayor Parker said.
Earlier Wednesday, Hundreds of fire and police vehicles lined up outside Reliant earlier Wednesday for a dramatic procession along Kirby drive. A sea of blue marched in the street to the music of mournful bagpipes, a firefighter tradition.
One firefighter suffered from heat exhaustion during the procession and had to be taken to the hospital.
Firefighters from across Texas are filling in at fire stations around Houston for local firefighters who wanted to attend the service.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, Fire Chief Terry Garrison, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Mayor Annise Parker are among the many special guests expected to address the audience.
The entire Houston Texans team was also expected to attend. Coach Gary Kubiak moved their Wednesday morning workout up a few hours to allow them to be there.