By Colleen M. Farrell
The Brighton-Pittsford Post
WEBSTER, N.Y. — Bob Metcalfe was part of the group of firefighters who responded to the Dec. 24 call on Lake Road in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve.
Instead of fighting that fire, though, Metcalfe, along with some of his peers from the Laurelton Fire Department in Irondequoit, was forced to wait at the West Webster Fire Department station for hours until the scene was determined safe.
"You're waiting, you're uncertain, you're starting to hear these reports," Metcalfe said.
Those reports of firemen down and a shooting led to the discovery by Webster Police that William Spengler Jr. shot at firefighters arriving to put out a vehicle fire he set. That incident left two West Webster firefighters dead, wounded three other first responders, and obliterated seven homes in the closeknit community along Lake Ontario. Last week, authorities revealed that they had discovered a body inside of the Spengler home, which was believed to be that of Spengler's 67-year-old sister, Cheryl.
Watching the thick black smoke fill the sky, Metcalfe said he felt helpless.
"It's hard as a firefighter because you want to put it out. You want to do your job," he said.
Later that night, Metcalfe decided to help out the families of the victims by starting an online fundraiser at www.indiegogo.com/westwebsterfire. More than $6,000 was raised over a four-day period, far surpassing Metcalfe's original goal of $1,000.
Metcalfe said donors are contributing from Rochester as well as from outside the area in both large and small amounts.
Every little bit helps, he said, crediting social media with spreading the word about the endeavor. On Friday, Metcalfe learned that the website is featuring the West Webster fundraiser on its homepage, thereby increasing its exposure. He said the money will be given to the families of the firefighters for them to create their own individualized memorials for their heroes.
"We couldn't do much that day, but I can now," he said.
The fundraiser runs through Feb. 14. Donations may be made via credit card or PayPal.
In addition, a fundraiser for the victims of the Webster firefighters' tragedy Dec. 24 was organized by Webster resident Thomas Doehler and will run through April 24. Donations are being accepted through Give Forward, and a link may be found on the town of Webster's website, www.ci.webster.ny.us. The beneficiary of the donations will be the West Webster Fire Department.
The Webster Community Chest is accepting monetary (only) donations for the families aff ected by the fire. Checks may be written out to the Webster Community Chest and mailed to 1000 Ridge Road, Webster, NY 14580. On the memo line please write: "Fire-12/24." Credit card donations (via PayPal) are also being taken through the community organization's web site at http://www.webcommchest.org. Again, please indicate that your donation is for 12/24. All donations earmarked for the families devastated by the fi re will be given to the families, in addition to Webster Community Chest needs-based assistance. The Chest will attach no administrative fees. (Credit Card donations are subject to Pay Pal's fee of 2.2 percent.) The Webster Community Chest is a 501c3 non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible.
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