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Police chief confirms local firefighter dies while battling blaze

CHRISTOPHER (WSIL) — Officials confirm a firefighter died while fighting a fire early Sunday morning in Christopher. 

Seventeen fire departments and six police departments assisted in battling the two-story structure fire. 

The Christopher Police Department said a call came in around 3:30 a.m. reporting a fire at 118 West Market Street. 

Christopher Fire Chief Ron Learned said a call for Mayday came an hour after the fire started for someone down inside the fire scene. 

"I don’t know how many guys sprang to the attack," Learned said. "We were able to bring one of those people out and then the other we did not recover until later."

Several local firefighters, including Southern Illinois Fire Incidents are posting on social media "Rest in Peace Kody Vanfossan."

Christopher’s Police Chief confirmed Vanfossan’s dad was also inside the building fighting the fire. 

Vanfossan is the grandson of Christopher Mayor Gary Bartolotti.

A final call for the fallen firefighter could be heard across the area Sunday night to all fire and police departments: 

"The City of Christopher Fire Department announces the line of duty death of Christopher Firefighter Kody Vanfossan. Firefighter Vanfossan fell in a line of duty early this morning while working a commercial building fire this morning in the City of Christopher."

It’s unclear how the fire started, but officials tell News 3 that the building was a vacant furniture store, and that no one was inside at the time.

Crews focused their attention to the top floor of the two-story building where smoke was seen coming out.

The State Fire Marshal is investigating the scene and has Market Street closed from Route 148 through Emma Street during the investigation

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