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Wilmington firefighters appeal suit against city, former officials over deadly 2016 fire

Delaware Public Media

The families of the three firefighters who died in the 2016 Canby Park fire and several firefighters injured in the blaze formally appealed their case against the City of Wilmington and several former officials Tuesday.

The case was dismissed by a federal judge late last month. 

The plaintiffs claim the City’s policy of “rolling bypasses,” or temporarily taking engines and crews offline to cut costs, contributed to the deadliness of the fire. They also claim the City understaffed the fire department and increased the number of firefighters working desk jobs.

The judge dismissed the complaints against the City, former Mayor Dennis Williams and former fire chief Anthony Goode last month, saying all plaintiffs failed to claim the necessary underlying constitutional violations.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Thomas Neuberger, said in a statement Tuesday he believes his clients will receive a “fair and thorough” hearing in the Court of Appeals, and still hopes justice will be done for the "victims of the City’s deadly policies.”

The Wilmington Fire Department continues to use rolling bypasses. 

Current Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki’s Deputy Chief of Staff John Rago said last month the City was pleased with the court’s decision. 

Complaints against former Mayor Jim Baker and former fire chief Willie Patrick, Jr., were previously dismissed.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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