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Community Comes Together to Raise Funds for Injured Firefighter

NIANGUA, Mo. -- A Marshfield firefighter remains in the burn unit of Mercy Hospital tonight. He was severely injured fighting a house fire in Niangua on Saturday.
NIANGUA, Mo. -- A Marshfield firefighter remains in the burn unit of Mercy Hospital tonight. He was severely injured fighting a house fire in Niangua on Saturday.

Now the community is coming together to hlep Lt. Matt Blankenship, who was among three firefighters injured in the line of duty. Lt. James Lannan, also of Marshfield, and Chief Shawn Ricks, of Niangua, were treated and released.

It began as a typical fire. "We were saving the home," recalls Chief Ricks. "Everything was going well."

When something went wrong Saturday at the home in Niangua, firefighter Matt Blankenship was severely burned and flown by helicopter to a Springfield hospital.

"The community is very saddened by all of this," says Ricks. "I mean, this hits the community pretty hard."

Chief Ricks was one of many in attendance at a benefit fundraiser for the injured firefighter Tuesday in Nianga, along with the Leppert family, who organized the event.

"We're having a benefit for the firefighter that got hurt in my house on Hospitality Road," says homeowner Shawn Leppert.

Leppert's parents brought their band together at the last minute to raise money for Lt. Blankenship.

The family says every dollar donated is one more show of community support for the firefighter

"Hopefully he makes a full recovery and we hope everybody will donate and help his family out," adds Leppert.

That recovery will keep Blankenship in the hospital and out of work -- possibly for months.

Leppert hopes to support him and the whole Marshfield Fire Department through every dollar bill dropped in a boot.

"Our stuff will be replaced but his life is changed forever," says Leppert.

"We're brothers and we're sisters," adds Chief Ricks. "We take care of each other. Something happens to one, we step up and help."

A fund has been created for Lt. Blankenship. Click here for more information.
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