Firefighters prepare to head to West memorial service - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Firefighters prepare to head to West memorial service

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SMTIH COUNTY (KYTX) - A memorial service planned to say goodbye to dozens lost in the West fertilizer plant explosion.

The President and First Lady will attend tomorrow, along with hundreds, if not thousands, of first responders.

Firefighters from nearly every department in Smith County will be taking off before 5 a.m. to make it to Waco and into line for the memorial service.

It's something they all believe they have to do to show their respect.

The trucks are ready for Flint-Gresham firefighter Caitlin Roberson to move out before the sun rises Thursday.

"I didn't know there was a West, Texas before, to be honest. Just to pay our respects and the love we have for each other and respect we have for each other," says Roberson.

Roberson didn't know any of the firefighters who died in the West fertilizer explosion, but she says they're still family.

"Very heavy on our hearts, for everyone, just because you don't know it could've been you, or someone you know from your family or your department," says Roberson.

That bond between firefighters is why she's going to West for the memorial service, honoring the 15 who died in the explosion, including 10 who were volunteer firefighters and first responders.

"Pretty much all sending at least one personnel with us," says Eric Lowry with Dixie Fire Department.

Lowry says the tragedy made a big impact on Smith County firefighters.

"If one of our brothers fall, or perishes in the line of duty, be there for them," says Lowry.

The entire parking lot will be filled with firefighters and about a dozen fire trucks from departments across Smith County, even 2 trucks from CherokeeCounty, before they line up and caravan to West.

"We work together and know each other and we'll get down there and meet, socialize and the brotherhood," says Lowry.

A brotherhood that's brought these firefighters closer to a town hours away to honor those who did the same job, and died helping others.

"All we can do is send out prayers and whatever support we can to help them out," says Roberson.

Tomorrow is just for the memorial service, but firefighters from across Smith County will be heading back down to West this weekend to deliver money collected in East Texas to help the fire department there.

As of today the departments had a grand total close to $50,000.

They are still taking donations, so that number can still change.

You can drop off your donation at a local volunteer fire department.

We will be streaming the memorial service live on our website starting around 2 o'clock.

You can also see it on our sister station KCEB, cable channel 2 on Suddenlink, 18 on Direct TV and 54 on Dish.

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