Wilmington’s Fallen: Third Firefighter dies from Canby Park blaze

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Wilmington: A fire that was caused by arson and claimed the life of two Wilmington firefighters in a September Wilmington blaze, claimed the life of yet another firefighter.

Senior Firefighter Ardythe (Ardy) Hope who was the most seriously injured firefighter in the September 24th Canby Park blaze has died, according to Chief Anthony S. Goode from the Wilmington Fire Department.

“It is with the heaviest heart that I announce the Line of Duty Death of Senior Firefighter Ardy Hope. #RIP Ardy, I/We love you” tweeted Fire Chief Anthony S. Goode.

The fire was allegedly set by one of its home occupant, Fana-Ruiz, 27, of Lakeview Drive on September 24th.

Hope, who sustained over 70% burns to her body, was injured when she went into the blaze in an attempt to save trapped firefighter LT. Christopher Leach when the floor gave way.

At the time of the fire, Hope was transported to the Crozer Chester Medical Center where she remained in critical condition with co-firefighter Brad Speakman. Speakman sustained 30% burns to his body. He spent six weeks in the hospital and was released on November 3rd.

On October 12th, Hope’s condition worsened and she was no longer stable. According to Crozer Chester Medical center, “she was downgraded to critical condition.” They would not elaborate on what caused the change in her condition.

The fire injured four firefighters, including Hope, and claimed the life of two other firefighters, CAPT. Christopher Leach and LT. Jerry Ficke who were laid to rest on September 30th.

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 was 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.

CAP. Christopher Leach and LT. Jerry Fickes
CAP. Christopher Leach and LT. Jerry Fickes

Beatriz Fana-Ruiz is expected to face an additional murder charge as the result of Hope’s passing. Hope is the third firefighter to die from the September 24th Canby Park blaze.

The line of duty deaths of CAPT. Christopher Leach and LT. Jerry Fickes were the first line of duty deaths in almost two decades.

The early morning fire is Wilmington’s deadliest in Wilmington Fire Department history.

Hope is the sister-in-law of Wilmington Police chief Bobby Cummings. She leaves behind three children who were able to say their goodbyes along with other family members in her final moments.

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