OKLAHOMA CITY --
An Oklahoma City firefighter collapsed at the scene of an apartment fire Wednesday afternoon and later died, fire officials confirmed.
Cpl. Christopher Allen Dill, 43, died in the line of duty, fire officials announced shortly after 6 p.m.
"It is a tremendous tragedy, not only for our department, but for all the citizens of Oklahoma City," said Fire Chief Keith Bryant.
The former Marine joined the Oklahoma City Fire Department on June 18, 1993, and was promoted to corporal on June 18, 1996. Dill served at Fire Station 25 on the green shift and was greatly respected by his fellow firefighters, fire officials said.
Dill is survived by a wife and two daughters, according to a fire department spokesman. He was a Marine before he became a firefighter.
Crews had been called to a blaze at the Penn Grand Apartments, located at 3726 S. Penn Ave., at about 2:15 p.m.
Investigators said food on a stove started the fire.
Fire crews were cleaning up the mess at about 4 p.m., when Dill collapsed.
CPR was administered until paramedics were able to get him to a hospital.
"The only comment Chris made was, 'My back is a little sore' and made the comment to his chief, 'And nothing that 8 hours of sleep won't take care of,'" said Deputy Chief Cecil Clay.
"It is something to a fire chief that all of his firefighters go home at the end of their shifts," Bryant said. "We know that in our line of work, there are instances when that doesn't happen."
Bryant said that Dill was a well-respected, committed firefighter who he admired.
"In my dealings with Chris, he was also very respectful," Bryant said. "He didn't have to say a lot. He let his work do the talking for him."
He said the fire department would pull together and help Dill's family get through this difficult time.
"We'll rally around one another and especially around that family and support them the best we can," he said.
The fire damaged about three units in the complex and displaced four families.
Condolences Come In
Firefighters across the area sent messages of support to the Oklahoma City Fire Department.
The Deer Creek Fire Department said, "Our thoughts are with the family and the whole Oklahoma City Fire Department. There's no other worse feeling than losing one of your own like that."
The Village Fire Department said it lowered its flags to half-staff "out of respect for a fallen brother."
Sunday will mark the 20th anniversary of the last time an Oklahoma City firefighter died in the line of duty.
Jefferey N. Lindsay, Jimmy L. Ayers and Bennie D. Zellner died when they went into a burning home to see if anyone was inside and were caught in a flashover that trapped them in the flames.
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Dill's funeral will be Tuesday afternoon at Southern Hills Baptist Church in south Oklahoma City.