New Carlisle residents remember a "fallen hero"

New Carlisle, Ind. The greater New Carlisle community continued to mourn the loss of Asst. Fire Chief Jamie Middlebrook Wednesday. The volunteer firefighter died in a massive business fire in LaPorte County Tuesday night.

Friends, family, community members and complete strangers journeyed to the New Carlisle Fire Dept. to place flowers, flags, pictures and handwritten notes at the scene.

Many of the signs read "You are a hero" and "Thank you for your service."

“These are volunteers, these is our family and friends who come here and volunteer to help us and protect us,” said resident Dana Finukane.

Miller's Home Café supplied a full meal to the fire fighters Wednesday afternoon with the help of donations from a local bank.

“Knowing Jamie Middlebrook, he was so young and it’s heartbreaking to lose a good firefighter in our town,” said Anne Rodgers of Miller's Home Café. “This is just a touch of the beginning of how this town will support the families.”

The Diner up the street is also lending a helping hand to the family Middlebrook left behind. The employees decided to donate 100 percent of their tips during dinner Wednesday to the firefighter’s widow, Julie Middlebrook.

“We thought we could help out Julie by collecting our tips from the dinners from 5-8 p.m.,” said waitress Cathy Jimenez. “We're very close with our public service out here and we like to take care of them the best that we can.”

Jessica Varga, who also works at The Diner, says Middlebrook was a welcome patron at their restaurant on many occasions.

“Jamie had been sick a long time ago and fought leukemia and to watch the community fight and battle with him during that time too was amazing,” Varga said. “And to turn around and do triathlons and marathons and just to overcome and then to be defeated by what he loved doing… it’s so sad.”

The Heroes Memorial Foundation and Last Alarm are honoring Middlebrook this Friday with a “Lights on Event” in his memory. Participants are asked to illuminate a porch lamp at sundown that night to remember him.

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