NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Family, friends and colleagues packed a Staten Island funeral home Tuesday to remember a hero firefighter killed in the line of duty.
A line of firefighters paying their respects at FDNY Lt. Gordon “Matt” Ambelas‘ wake stretched out the door of the Casey McCallum Rice South Shore Funeral Home in Great Kills and into the sweltering heat, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.
The 40-year-old married father of two died from smoke inhalation and burns late Saturday while searching for possible victims at the Independence Towers on Wilson Street in Williamsburg.
“Naturally, the atmosphere inside is grim, to say the least,” firefighter Eric Bischoff, Ambelas’ friend and former roommate, told reporters. “But at the same time, it’s completely uplifting for the family and for each other.
“Matt was the best of the best. Matt was the best of this department, and he would be incredibly, incredibly honored by the show of support that he’s received here today.”
As CBS 2’s Matt Kozar reported, on the back of Ambelas’ prayer card was the fireman’s prayer: “When I am called to duty, give me the strength to save a life, and if I am to lose my life, please bless with your protecting hand my family, friends and wife.”