Thousands of firefighters, friends, and family from all over the area gathered in Wayne County to honor two firemen who died Friday after being trapped inside a burning warehouse near Goldsboro.
Both Robbie Blizzard, a volunteer with the Errington Fire Department, and Sidney Jones, chief of the Thoroughfare Volunteer Fire Department, received a hero's good-bye.
Their caskets, draped with the American flag, were carried to the gravesite by a line of fire trucks. Hundreds of firefighters from all over the state and other states came to pay their respects to the men they say paid the ultimate price for their community.
About 90 percent of the people who came out Wednesday did not even know the two men. They just wanted to lend their support.
At Mount Olive College Wednesday morning, mourners stood in front of Jones' casket draped in an American flag. One of the speakers said Jones made the ultimate sacrifice by laying down his life for his community.
The outpouring of support has been overwhelming, according to Wayne Aycock, of the Wayne County Fireman's Association. "We knew we had a lot of friends in the fire service but until something like this happens, you don't know how many friends you have," Aycock says. "There's really no way to explain it. It's just overwhelming."
Darryl Fry, Chief of the Errington Fire Department, remembers his 29-year-old friend. "Sidney will be remembered as a dear friend, a good father, who loved to joke around. You name it, you ask him to do something, he was there."
In an enormous show of support, 2,500 friends and colleagues of the two fallen firemen gathered at Southern Wayne High School Tuesday night.
They formed a line that stretched the length of a football field. The night was especially important for local firefighters who worked with Jones and with Blizzard.
"It's been a tough day but we've been able to get together and console each other. And through it all, we're beginning to manage with it," said Bobby Greenfield, assistant chief of the Goldsboro Fire Department.
Blizzard was a volunteer with the Errington department. The 24-year-old was also a full-time firefighter with the city of Goldsboro.
"One of our family passed away doing what his job required, what he wanted to do," Eric Davis said. The Wilson firefighter says, "that could have been me."
An American flag outside the salvage yard flies at half-staff. Mourners have established an informal memorial to the victims at the scene of the fire.
Mourners have left flowers, cards, and poems. Many of the tributes describe the victims as heroes.
Jean St. Clair, a friend of the victims, says she wants to "show my respect for what they've done for our community." , andJohn Clark