Hundreds Light the Night for Fallen Firefighter (With Photos)

By Erika Mahoney

January 23, 2013 Updated Jan 23, 2013 at 11:22 AM EST

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Hundreds shouldered the cold to gather around the Owego Firefighter Memorial in honor of Capt. Matthew Porcari.

Strangers huddled for warmth, but mostly for comfort, holding candles against the night sky.

"I mean everyone is feeling an emptiness tonight," said Dave Radigan, second assistant chief of the Southside Fire Department in Owego.

More than six different fire departments, showing their support in numbers, tried to fill that void, especially for Porcari's family.

Some didn't know the 34-year-old father of two killed in the line of duty Monday night. But it didn't matter. The brotherhood and sisterhood of the firefighter community means everyone is there for one another, especially in times of need.

"We stick with our own and we support each other in times of loss like what happened last night, and we are here to give our support," said Capt. Tyler Colb, of the Choconut Center Fire Department.

Others knew him beyond the fire services.

"I've know him since he was a little boy and my son is a fellow firefighter," said Fran Thomas. "He was a hero in every sense. Not just as a firefighter, but as a son, a brother as a father."

The night's chill was met with cries of sorrow and quiet comfort.

At times, only the hum of the fire engines lining the square filled the silence, with just a moment of the spontaneous singing of "Amazing Grace."

New additions to the Owego Firefighter Memorial shined brightly, as the crowd slowly slunk into the night.

"Matt will be missed and he served his community well," Radigan said. "And the rest of us will take it from here."

A sentiment echoed by Colb.

"If I could say something to Matt, I would say 'Thank you for your time of service, we'll take it from here, brother.'"