WYOMING—Firefighters Ron Fryling and Les Yonkers were remembered on the 30th anniversary of their deaths in the line of duty. The men were killed while fighting a fire at the Chinatown Restaurant on 28th Street in Wyoming. The roof collapsed as they were working the blaze from the inside on February 24th, 1980.
The city honored the two men at a ceremony Wednesday at the Division Avenue station.
The families were presented with a flag and the fire bell was rung for the fallen.
The loss was a shock to their comrades. "Everybody was walking around in a daze after that," said Robert Cook, a friend and colleague of the men in 1980. Cook was inside the building fighting the fire with them that night before they left to work on a different part of the building.
"My last words were to them were, 'Are you alright?' They said 'We're fine,'" said Cook.
Today, both of their sons now serve in the Wyoming Fire Department. "For whatever reason it was the Lord's time to take my Dad home," said son Todd Yonkers. "We don't always know the reason, but that was his plan."
Both Ron Fryling and Les Yonkers were paid on-call fire fighters.
It's very rare for a fire fighter to die in the line of duty. It's happened to only 55 fire fighters in Michigan in the past 30 years.