Christopher Michael Leach, Lieutenant

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Lieutenant Christopher Leach, Senior Firefighter Ardythe Hope, and Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes were on-duty on September 24, 2016. Lieutenant Leach was assigned to Ladder 2, Senior Firefighter Hope was assigned to Engine 5, and Senior Firefighter Fickes was assigned to Squad 4.

At 0256hrs, Wilmington Fire Department units were dispatched to a report of a structure fire at 1927 Lakeview Road in Wilmington. Ladder 2, Engine 5, and Squad 4, along with other Wilmington Fire Department units, were dispatched on the initial alarm.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, they found a working fire in a 2-story row house with a basement. Firefighters advanced hoselines into the building to control the fire. As firefighters worked in the interior, a floor collapse occurred. Lieutenant Leach and Senior Firefighter Hope fell into the basement of the building and were trapped by fire and debris. Senior Firefighter Fickes entered the basement, located Lieutenant Leach, and was attempting to remove him when a subsequent collapse occurred and trapped both firefighters.

Lieutenant Leach and Senior Firefighter Fickes were pronounced dead as a result of their injuries on September 24th. Senior Firefighter Hope was treated for extensive burns but died as a result of her injuries on December 1, 2016. The cause of death for Lieutenant Leach and Senior Firefighter Fickes asphyxiation and thermal injuries. The cause of death for Senior Firefighter Hope was complications from burns.

The fire was intentionally set.

Incident Location: 1927 Lakeview Rd, Wilmington, DE 19805 (U.S. National Grid: 18S VJ 5016 9905)

Department information

Wilmington Fire Department
22 S Heald ST
U.S. National Grid: 18S VJ 5364 9822
Wilmington, Delaware 19801

Chief: Anthony S. Goode

Christopher Michael Leach was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.
Age: 41
Rank: Lieutenant
Classification: Career
Incident date: September 24, 2016 02:54
Date of death: September 24, 2016
Cause of death: Collapse
Nature of death: Asphyxiation
Activity type: Search and Rescue
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Residential