Lehigh Valley firefighters form honor guard for two fallen York comrades
As first responders do, firefighters, police and EMS personnel from across the Lehigh Valley gathered at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, March 23, to salute and stand post for two York firefighters who lost their lives March 22 in the line of duty. The remains of the two firefighters arrived at the hospital Friday morning to be autopsied, and in the afternoon were given an honor escort back to their hometown for memorial, funeral and burial services.
The two firefighters, Ivan Flanscha, 50, a 20-year veteran with the City of York Fire Department and Zachary Anthony, 29, a seven-year fire service veteran, were killed March 22 when the walls of a former four-story piano factory collapsed while firefighters were searching for hot spots remaining from a Wednesday evening fire. Two other York firefighters were injured, but are expected to survive.
With only a few hours notice Friday morning, firefighters from Lehigh and Northampton counties began arriving at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest after word spread on social media the fallen firefighters’ remains were being transported to the Lehigh Valley to be autopsied at LVHN.
A huge arc was erected with two aerial ladder trucks forming an inverted “V,” from which a large American flag was suspended. Firefighters and other Lehigh Valley first responders stood at attention, silently saluting their fallen comrades as they arrived.
The scene was repeated Friday afternoon with the flag suspended from Western Salisbury and Cetronia ladder trucks as the honor cortege traveled beneath the memorial.
A Pennsylvania State Police cruiser and four York motorcycle patrol officers arrived to escort the vehicle carrying the remains back to York, with other fire vehicles carrying virtually all of York’s firefighting personnel who had traveled to LVHN to accompany their comrades. Firefighters from other York area fire stations covered for the mourning York firefighters.
As is tradition with military and first responder deaths, the heroes’ remains are never left unaccompanied as they are transported from location to location and then to final burial.