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Fundraiser to help firefighter badly burned in fatal fire

By Kimberly Davidow, Reporter
Published On: Feb 21 2013 04:20:17 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 22 2013 05:22:36 AM CST

Reading firefighters are reaching out to a brother in need in Lancaster.

LANCASTER, Pa. -

Reading firefighters are reaching out to a brother in need.

Lt. Andre Kelley, of the Lancaster Fire Department, was badly burned while fighting a four-alarm fire on East Madison Street in Lancaster on Monday.

Pauline Stone and her young niece were still inside the home when the first firefighters arrived on the scene, officials said.

Kevin Ressler, president of the Lancaster firefighters union Local 319, was not part of the initial dispatch, but he arrived on the scene a short time later.

"You just saw a bunch of tired, beat, sad firefighters. It just was a very solemn scene," said Ressler, who soon learned that Stone and her niece died in the fire.

Three of his friends, firefighters Tom Bender, Craig Robertson and Lt. Andre Kelley, were injured during the attempted rescue.

Kelley suffered the most severe injuries, with burns across 40 percent of his body, Ressler said.

"Words can't express sometimes what that feeling is to know that person is injured and lying in a hospital bed," said Ressler.

Word of a fund created to help Kelley's family with expenses has spread on Facebook.

"Andre's a good guy," said Ressler.

The outreach to help has extended into Berks County.

"This firefighter has a very long road ahead of him. So, the last thing his family needs to worry about is the finances," said Mike Shoumlisky, president of Reading Firefighters Local 1803.

Reading firefighters are paying it forward, said Shoumlisky. A portion of their proceeds from next month's St. Patrick's Day Bash will go toward Kelley's bills.

"It's a brotherhood, no matter where you're from," said Shoumlisky.

"If anyone wants to help out, donate to those funds that have been set up for the injured, that would be great," said Ressler.

Donations can be sent to:

Attn: Andre Kelley Fund
PO Box 1235
Lancaster, PA 17608

Checks can be made payable to the Andre Kelley Fund.