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Hundreds pay respects to fallen firefighter

By: Deven Clarke and WJAC Web Staff

Dozens of emergency vehicles lined the streets in St. Mary's Wednesday to honor an Elk County firefighter who died in the line of duty.

The vehicles on Route 255 were filled with people who risk their lives each day responding to emergencies, which is exactly what Blaine "Skeeter" Wildnauer Jr. did for the past 40 years with the Fox Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Among those in the large funeral procession were more than 600 students from South St. Mary's Elementary School. The principal said honoring the local hero is an important lesson in respect that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

"We celebrate athletes, we celebrate celebrities, and so little is our opportunity to celebrate and recognize those true heroes in our community and country every day," said Principal Bob Grumley. "If we don't -- at the school level -- instill in them an appreciation for our true heroes, then were doing a disservice to those who are serving us every day."

Wildnauer fell ill on Saturday while responding to an accident. The fire department said Wildnauer's death is the second line-of-duty death in its 75-year history.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times