BELLE, W.Va. — The parking lot at Riverside High School was packed with commuter cars and emergency vehicles Friday as people from across West Virginia joined together to remember a Pratt volunteer firefighter.
The visitation for Pratt Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Mike Edwards took place six days after he and five other firefighters were involved in a crash on Paint Creek Road en route to a fatal collision on West Virginia Turnpike.
Edwards and Lt. Tom Craigo died in the crash. Three other firefighters were injured.
Fire department vehicles from cities like Charleston and Kenova as well as Kanawha County communities including East Bank stood out among the SUVs and passenger vehicles.
“It’s a statement of support,” said C.W. Sigman, the Kanawha County emergency director and fire coordinator. “You’re just seeing the tip of it because when that fire engine comes out of town, that means there is somebody else stepping up to take their place. None of these folks are leaving town without having someone protect it.”
Sigman said the public displays of support toward the fire department — starting with a vigil held Sunday evening — shows the strength of the Pratt community and emergency personnel.
“They’re our brothers and sisters. They’re a great bunch in Pratt and they’re part of our group, so we want to support them,” he said.
Funeral services for Edwards will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at Riverside High School.
The visitation for Craigo will take place Monday at Riverside High School from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. His funeral is scheduled for Tuesday at 2 p.m.