SALISBURY, N.C. -- Speaking at a 4 p.m. press conference the day following a blaze at the Salisbury Lumber Company that claimed the lives of two of his firefighters, Chief Bob Parnell lamented on his department's loss.
"We are a tight knit group. We are friends, partners and buddies," he said. "Things are moving so fast for us, but at the same time at the speed of molasses."
Behind the chief stood 30 members of the fire department; standing in solidarity in honor of their fallen brothers.
Following the press conference, red ribbons were offered to those in attendance and will be distributed to citizens through fire stations and local businesses. Salisbury Chaplin Dan Peters and the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Foundation have pushed the effort and wish for the ribbons to serve as a reminder that the fallen firefighters will not be forgotten.
Chief Parnell said there are currently no confirmed dates for funeral services for either firefighter as their families continue to make plans.
Isler, 40, and Monroe, 19, were both part of the hose team that was first to respond to the morning blaze on March 7.
Capt. Rick Barkley -- the crew's supervisor -- suffered second and third degree burns and was released from North Carolina Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem Friday night. Barkley was in attendance at the press conference on Saturday.
Four other firefighters also suffered injuries in the blaze and have all been released from the hospital.
Investigations into the cause of the fire that destroyed the Salisbury Millwork building continue by the police and fire departments as well as the Rowan County Sheriff's Department.
A national response team dispatched by the ATF and officials from OSHA also are assisting in the ongoing investigation.
Chief Parnell said that aside from its focus on the investigation, the department also is focusing efforts towards helping the grieving families. Firefighters have been on shifts at the residences of the families since yesterday to help in any way needed.
While the families continue to grieve, so does the department. Just about every firefighter who spoke at the press conference, offering up memories of their fallen comrades, hung their heads low with tear-filled eyes.
"We continue to walk around with broken hearts, humbled by the outreach of departments in our area and beyond," Chief Parnell said.
Memorial funds for the families of Firefighers Monroe and Isler have been setup at the Salisbury and Harrisburg locations of the Bank of North Carolina:
415 Jake Alexander Blvd W
Salisbury, NC 28147
Phone: (704) 633-3436
Fax: (704) 647-0951
3890 Main Street
Harrisburg, NC 28075
Phone: (704) 455-1070
Fax: (704) 455-1260