Firefighter killed in collapse remembered for humor, spirit

Firefighters line up as the body of Philadelphia firefighter Lt. Matthew LeTourneau is carried on top of a firetruck during a funeral procession on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 in Philadelphia. Officials say the funeral mass for Lt. Matthew LeTourneau will be held Friday at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. The 11-year veteran was pulled from the home on Saturday by fellow firefighters and taken to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. (AP Photo/Kristen DeGroot)
This undated photo provided by the Philadelphia Fire Department shows Lt. Matthew LeTourneau. The veteran firefighter was fatally injured Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, when a burning row home collapsed in Philadelphia and he became pinned under the debris, authorities said. (Philadelphia Fire Department via AP)

PHILADELPHIA — A firefighter killed in a house collapse was remembered at his funeral Mass on Friday for his sense of humor and passion for his job.

Lt. Matthew LeTourneau had a goofy sense of humor and a fierce love of his nieces and nephews, his brother told mourners at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

"Matt also had a great respect for everyone whom he would meet. ... He never wanted anyone to feel left out," Luke LeTourneau said, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer .

The Rev. Dennis Gill told mourners LeTourneau was a good and just man who lived his life as the Lord intended.

"He stormed into that house to rescue someone else," Gill told the crowd. "To lay down your life is never empty."

Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel recalled LeTourneau's enthusiasm for the job.

Mayor Jim Kenney, whose father was a firefighter, shared a childhood memory with those gathered.

"I often woke up to the smell of smoke singed into my father's bunker gear. That sickly smell of smoke was a good thing. Because it meant he had come home," said Kenney, a Democrat. "Matt did not go home Saturday. And, for his family and friends, there is no solace."

Afterward, LeTourneau's flag-draped casket was placed atop an engine as the procession made its way to a cemetery in suburban Philadelphia.

LeTourneau, 42, was fighting a blaze in a North Philadelphia row house when the house collapsed Jan. 6, trapping him under rubble. He was pulled from the home by fellow firefighters and was taken to a hospital. The 11-year veteran was pronounced dead there a short time later.

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