UPDATED 12/30/2010 at 6 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — It was another day of mourning for the city and its bravest, as fallen firefighter Corey Ankum was remembered by family, friends and colleagues.
Funeral services for Ankum, 34, were held Thursday at the Apostolic Church of God, 6320 S. Dorchester Ave. The service started at 11 a.m., following an open-casket viewing.
“We only had Corey for a short time, but he distinguished himself as a hard worker, dedicated to being an outstanding firefighter, not just a good firefighter,” Chicago Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff told mourners.
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As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, Mayor Richard M. Daley and Fire Department brass were among the thousands of people who came to the Woodlawn neighborhood church to pay their last respects to the fallen firefighter. Ankum’s helmet and fire jacket were displayed on a fire engine outside.
Mayor Daley personally knew Ankum, whose wife, Dameka, works in the mayor’s office.
Daley said he loved the job he had held for only a short time after a couple years with the police department.
“And I know because he told me every time he was with Dameka, how great the fire department was … every time I spoke to him,” said Daley.
A few hours before the funeral began, firefighters mournfully filed into the church by the hundreds. A fire truck stood outside the church, emblazoned with Ankum’s name in gold text, and bearing his helmet and uniform, flanked by purple bunting.
At the service, church Pastor Dr. Byron Brazier tried to comfort Ankum’s family.
“To this family – may God bless you and may God keep you,” Brazier said. “The entire congregation prayed for you last Sunday, and we’ll pray for you again next Sunday.”
Also at the service, Dameka Ankum, received a gold medal of honor from fire brass.
Ankum and fellow firefighter Edward Stringer, 47, were killed last week when a roof and wall collapsed on them as they searched a burning building in the South Shore neighborhood.
As at Stringer’s funeral earlier this week, firefighters from all over the state, the nation and even Canada to honor his memory and his service to the city. So many firefighters attended that the church had to seat some of them in a secondary overflow chapel.
“It’s a brotherhood; a strong brotherhood in the fire service, and you know, we always come out and support our brothers, and having a mutliple line-of-duty death like this and seeing something happen like this is just a tragedy to all of us, and we’re bonded together,” one visiting firefighter said.
Ankum and Stringer were killed on Dec. 22 during a a fire at the vacant Banner Laundromat and Dry Cleaners, 1744 E. 75th St. The fire was largely out, but firefighters were searching the building for homeless people.
Fire officials later concluded that someone lit garbage, wood or other flammables on fire inside the building, and the fire went on to ignite the structure. The abandoned Laundromat was used by the homeless as a makeshift shelter.