CHRISTOPHER (WSIL) — Local firefighters are stepping up to help cover shifts in Christopher after firefighter, Kody Vanfossan died while fighting a structure fire.
Investigators have been on the scene in Christopher since the fire Sunday morning trying to figure out what caused the blaze. They say the building was vacant at the time the fire started.
Christopher Fire Chief Ron Learned said more than 17 fire departments responded to the fire inside the old office furniture store on the corner of Market and Emma Street.
An hour into the call, a firefighter called out Mayday after finding someone down inside the fire scene.
Shortly later, Learned says rescuers found Vanfossan’s dad, a more than 10-year veteran with the Christopher fire department, but they were not able to recover Kody’s until later.
"He’s (Kody) always been a tough firefighter, a go-getter," Learned said.
Learned said Vanfossan wanted to suit up and fight fires for years.
"He grew up around here and became a junior firefighter here (Christopher) at age 16," Learned said. "He learned firefighting right here on the scene and he’s been an asset for a long time in our department."
Christopher Police Chief Bill Southard said 24-year-old Vanfossan was on the second floor of the building when the Mayday call came out.
While Christopher firefighters mourn the loss of their brother, area firefighters are manning the fire station.
"For right now we will respond to any of the calls that the chief has or any of the assignments that he tasks us with," Mt. Vernon Firefighter Bryan Jennings said.
Jennings is the president of Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) Division 47. The 17 departments within the division are taking turns covering the Christopher Fire Department this week.
"We’ve looked at whatever the chief needs and we are doing it day-by-day with whatever his needs are," Jennings said. "That way they can take care of their own right now and take care of themselves while we take care of their operations."
Learned said his department is thankful for the time to remember their fallen hero, "It’s a blessing, plain and simple, to have this kind of service from fellow firefighters."
While the state fire marshal continues to investigate the fire, Southard said police officers along with police tape will remain around the fire scene at all times.
Vanfossan’s visitation will be held Thursday, May 9 from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Christopher High School Gym with a Firefighter Walk-through set for 7:30 p.m.
A Visitation will also be on Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. with a Firefighter Walk-through at 10:45 a.m.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday at the high school with burial to follow at St. Andrews Catholic Cemetery in Christopher.