It's been 48 years since three volunteer firefighters lost their lives battling a blaze in a downtown Palatine store, but the tragedy still resonates with the community and weighs heavy on its first responders.
And so firefighters, village leaders, community members and family of the fallen gathered Tuesday morning at the Palatine Firefighters Memorial to pay tribute to volunteer firefighters Warren "Auggie" Ahlgrim, 32, John Wilson, 40, and Richard Freeman, 25, and honor their ultimate sacrifice.
The three volunteers died Feb. 23, 1973, while fighting a fire in the basement of the Ben Franklin store at 36 N. Broadway St.
Wilson, who owned the store, believed the furnace was the source of the fire and led Freeman and Ahlgrim through the long, narrow structure to a set of interior stairs that would take them to the basement. Each was equipped with an air pack that was expected to last 10 to 20 minutes.