Elmira/Corning Regional Airport
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Honoring a Hometown Hero
OWEGO (WENY) -- "He's not forgotten. I have two pictures in the apparatus downstairs every time when I roll out the door for a call, I touch his picture and tell him to be with me," said Owego Station 3 Cpt. Lee Dunham.
A year later, Captain Matt Porcari is still very much a part of Lee Dunham's life. Dunham recalls losing his nephew and former colleague to a late night fire in the Newark Valley when the ceiling collapsed and Matt fell through. Dunham now serves as the Captain at Owego Fire Station 3.
"It's like someone's punched you in the gut and taken the wind out of you. It's just a night I never want to remember ever again it was like a nightmare for me," said Dunham.
Dunham still keeps Porcari's baseball cap in the station truck in honor of his nephew.
Porcari was the Captain at Company 3 for a year, before that he was the lieutenant. He spent years volunteering and helping the community that's still feeling the loss. Many people have sent cards to the fire station in memory of their hometown hero.
"They were trying their best to save the house or at least control it to the best of their ability," Owego Deputy Fire Chief Robert Williams. "That's ultimate sacrifice, and caring for your community and trying to look out for your neighbors."
Porcari left behind a wife and two children; however his memory lives on. Members of the community will join together tonight in memory, hoping another hero won't be taken from them again.
"We've upped our training we've set our standards on how we do our training," said Captain Dunham. "Not just as a fire department, but as a community and we just keep working together to make sure something like this can never ever happen again."
The memorial is at 6:30 p.m. in front of Owego Fire Station 2 at the flag pole, followed by a candlelight memorial at 8:00 p.m. in the Courthouse Square at the Fireman's Fountain.