Comrades of two Central Texas firefighters killed in a weekend blaze remembered them as light-hearted fixtures who represented the backbone of their department.
Emergency responders from across the state gathered Wednesday for a 90-minute memorial service for Bryan fire Lt. Gregory Pickard and fellow Lt. Eric Wallace.
Central Baptist Church in College Station was teeming with the blue uniforms of hundreds of firefighters who attended the service, which started at 10 a.m. Gov. Rick Perry was among the mourners.
A bagpipe brigade started the procession. Coworkers then carried the helmets of their fallen comrades.
"Lt. Wallace and Lt. Pickard willingly put themselves in harm's way day in and day out to protect the citizens of Bryan," Mayor Jason Bienski said.
"The time is now for us to draw closer and comfort each other as we begin healing," Bryan Fire Chief Randy McGregor said.
Investigators said Tuesday the fire was caused by the failure of an electrical cord in the kitchen of an unoccupied Knights of Columbus Hall in Bryan.
Two other firefighters, Ricky Mantey Jr. and Mitchel Moran, suffered serious injuries.
Bryan is about 100 miles northwest of Houston.