Note from the Editor
The USFA has received information that this firefighter was on his way to an emergency medical call when he encountered the tornado, and was killed. Therefore, the flags at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial have been lowered to half staff to honor him as a line-of-duty death.
RIEGELWOOD -- As some firefighters searched through the rubble looking for survivors they discovered one of their own had not survived. The flags at the Acme-Delco-Riegelwood Fire Department are flying at half staff.
It was as Acme-Delco-Riegelwood firefighters scoured the area, looking for signs of life, pulling survivors from the debris, they learned fellow firefighter Mike Browne had been killed by the tornado along Holly Tree road. They pushed forward. They had to.
Acme-Delco-Riegelwood VFD Chief Steve Camlin said, "It's hard. You have to get yourself and grip it. And it's overwhelming. It can be. But we still got our job to do regardless. We couldn't do anything for him, so we had to concentrate on his daughter."
Mike's three-year-old daughter suffered severe injuries but survived. His father and stepmother were killed. His chief says Mike was ready for the call to duty. He just couldn't get out in time.
"He was getting his clothes on and headed that way," Camlin said. "He was getting his family out and he was going to come to the station. All of them were dressed like they were getting ready to leave."
His fellow rescue workers say Mike was a dedicated firefighter and a devoted father. His little girl was found in a ditch, but was alive.
"He'll just rest knowing we do whatever we can to take care of his little girl. If we got any dealings with it, we'll take care of her. She's got family. She's got a little bit family left. I think he'll rest easy knowing we'll take care of her," Camlin said.
It's a time of mourning for Mike and the others who were killed. For the survivors, the long road to recovery has just begun. Many have no home to return to. A lot of people need a lot of help. But every little bit helps. And you can do just that through the American Red Cross.
Mike Browne was a volunteer firefighter with the Acme-Delco-Riegelwood department for three years. He wanted to become an emergency management technician. He took his test just last week.
Republished courtesy WWAY TV 3
Services for Firefighter/EMT Browne will be held Nov. 22 at Prosper Baptist Church, Delco, N.C.