Arrest Made In Fatal Fire That Killed Two Firefighters

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Wilmington: As the community mourns the loss of two brave firefighters that lost their lives during last Saturday’s row home fire, an arrest has been made.

Although the home was owned by her father, Beatriz Fana-Ruiz, of Wilmington, who was living in the home at the time of the fire with her five children is being held on $6 million bail. She was officially charged by the State Fire Marshall’s Office and Wilmington Police today.

According to court documents, Fana-Ruiz told investigators she was drunk and on anxiety medication when she went to the basement to get her things. Instead, investigators say she confessed to lighting the fire in the basement.

Beatriz Fana-Ruiz is charged with two counts of first-degree murder; one count of first-degree arson; four counts of second-degree assault in the injuries of other firefighters involved; and seven counts of reckless endangerment, according to the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

Officials were able to charge her with first degree murder due to Delaware law that covers first responders who lose their lives while serving due to the “reckless behavior” of an individual. The law originally only covered on-duty police officers, corrections employees and firefighters but was extended in 2009 to cover paramedics, EMTs, fire marshals and fire police officers after the death of Michelle Smith, a Delaware City firefighter who was sideswiped by a passing car and killed along U.S. 13.

As Wilmington fire crews arrived Saturday morning, Lieutenant Christopher Leach went into the home to save what he was told by Ruiz, her daughter who went back into the home to save pets. He then became trapped.

It was then that other arriving units including Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes went in to rescue him when the first floor collapsed into the basement.

During the rescue attempts, Lieutenant Christopher Leach and Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes perished in the blze, and Four other firefighters who were trying to save him were seriously hurt.

In the meantime, while two firefighters were released, two other firefighters, Ardythe Hope and Brad Speakman remain hospitalized at Crozer Chester Medical Center.

In a recent press release, Wilmington Battalion Chief James Jobes said, “Speakman was upgraded to stable condition Wednesday and Hope remains in stable but critical condition”.

Individual funeral services will be held Friday for Leach and Fickes, and a joint memorial service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. The service is expected to draw at least 2,000, with first responders from around the country expected.


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