Large Turnout for Blankenship Funeral

Published 07/25 2013 11:21AM

Updated 07/25 2013 08:35PM

MARSHFIELD, Mo. -- Hundreds of people lined up outside the high school in Marshfield late Thursday morning, for the funeral of Marshfield firefighter Lt. Matt Blankenship.

Blankenship was critically hurt after being trapped inside a home in Niangua as he and fellow firefighters attempted to extinguish the fire on July 13.  He died of his injuries late last week.

Many of those attending are firefighters from across Missouri and Arkansas, and other parts of the country.  The service began at 11:00 am with a large procession to follow.

Organizers of the service say they expect at least 80 fire trucks and related vehicles from all over the country to be a part of the procession.

Eric Nielsen, the public information officer for the Southern Stone County Fire Protection District, says the large showing is part of the brotherhood of firefighters. 

"When a firefighter dies in the line of duty, it really hits home for us," Nielsen said.  "It could happen to any of us at any time."

A fund has been established for Lt. Blankenship's family, which has already raised $12,465.  Although the fire department insurance will cover most, if not all, of the hospital expenses, many other expenses may not be.

Members of the fire department have also organized a benefit to be held on July 27th at the Marshfield Fire Station and T-shirts are being sold on the fire department's website for $20.

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