Plans detailed for HFD firefighters memorial

June 4, 2013 8:36:01 PM PDT
Plans are coming together to honor the fallen firefighters who died while battling a hotel fire in southwest Houston last week. Thousands are expected to come out for a memorial service tomorrow at Reliant Stadium.

We're also learning a little more about what investigators are looking at when it comes to what started the fire.

Investigators won't talk in great detail, but they tell us that eyewitness statements combined with other evidence lead them to believe the deadly fire could have started in only one part of the building.

"We are concentrating on the area above the kitchen, the area in and above the kitchen," said Edgar Arthur with the Houston Fire Department.

Captian Matthew Renaud, firefighters Robert Bebee, Robert Garner and Anne Sullivan all died when the roof collapsed on them Friday during the inferno. We now know that was near the northeast portion of the building.

They were inside the Southwest Inn looking for civilians who they thought may have been trapped. Investigators on Tuesday said a contributing factor to that roof collapse could have been several layers of roofing material they've now discovered was on the building.

"There are a few layers of roof," said Arthur. "That is part of the investigation, on the load bearing of the structure."

It will be months before investigators release their final report about the fire. Meantime, preparations are being made inside Reliant Stadium for tomorrow's public memorial. They are expecting 30,000 to 40,000 people in attendance. Before the service there, though, firefighters from around the country and the globe, as far away as Australia even, will be marching in a procession into Reliant.

"Making a public display of our loyalty, our love, our dedication to making sure that their memories are honored," said Captain Scott Wilkey with the Houston Fire Department.

Firefighters are not the types of people who sit still while others are in need. They've started selling T-shirts with the names of each of the fallen firefighters emblazoned on the back. One-hundred percent of proceeds go to the 100 Club.

Veteran firefighter Victor Vaesa says he will wear his proudly.

"It hurts everybody. We're all hurting, but we're gonna get through it."

The Memorial at Reliant begins at 10am. If you can't make it there, you can watch it live on ABC13 or streaming live on abc13.com or on our free mobile apps.

Parking will open at 7 a.m. The public entrance will be off of S. Main with signs and directions directing the public to the parking area. The Memorial Procession will begin at 8 a.m. and the public may view the procession from the south parking lot of Reliant Stadium and on the Skywalk across Kirby Drive. Kirby Drive will be closed both directions between La Concha Ln and 610 S Loop from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. for the Firefighters Memorial Procession.

Reliant Stadium will open at 8 a.m. and the service will began at 10 a.m. with the prelude by Musicians of the Houston Symphony and will include the following:

  • Procession
  • National Anthem by Kelley Peters
  • Master of Ceremony Remarks by Michael Mire, Captain, Houston Fire Department
  • Opening Prayer by His Eminence Daniel Nicholas DiNardo, Cardinal-Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
  • Musical Selection by the Brentwood Baptist Church Choir
  • Mayor of Houston Address by The Honorable Annise Parker
  • Messages by Tony Rocha, On behalf of the Renaud Family; Ian S. Kim, On behalf of the Bebee Family
  • Musical Selection by the Musicians of The Houston Symphony
  • Messages by Nicole Garner, On behalf of the Garner Family; Mary Moore Sullivan, On behalf of the Sullivan Family
  • Fire Chief Address by Terry Garrison, Fire Chief, Houston Fire Department
  • Fire Chief Terry Garrison will present the American Flag honoring our fallen fire fighters to the Renaud, Bebee, Garner and Sullivan families. These flags have been provided by U.S. Congressman Gene Green (D-Texas), U.S. Congressman John Culberson (R-Texas), U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and U.S. Congressman Pete Olson (R-Texas) who had the flags flown over the United States Capital on May 31, 2013.
  • Firefighters Address by Jeff Caynon, President, Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association IAFF Local 341
  • Address by International Association of Firefighters Thomas H. Miller, General Secretary-Treasure
  • After IAFF General Secretary-Treasurer Miller delivers his comments, he will be joined by IAFF District Vice President Sandy McGhee and Houston Professional Fire Fighters President Jeff Caynon to present the IAFF Medal of Honor to the Renaud, Bebee, Garner and Sullivan families.
  • Honor Companies Tribute
  • The Final Alarm Bell Ceremony by the Houston Fire Department Honor Guard
  • Closing Prayer by His Eminence Daniel Nicholas DiNardo, Cardinal-Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
  • Musical Selection (Amazing Grace) by the Houston Fire Department Pipes and Drums
  • Dismissal

INVESTIGATORS ASKING FOR HELP
The cause of the fire at the Southwest Inn is still under investigation. The Houston Fire Department Arson Division is taking the lead, with assistance from the State Fire Marshal's Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Houston Police Department.

An HFD spokesperson tells us that Arson investigators are now seeking witnesses to the tragic blaze. Anyone who has information that may help investigators is urged to call 713-247-8900.

HOW YOU CAN HELP
The 100 Club is supporting the victims and families. Anyone interested in donating can do so online at the100club.org.

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