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Baltimore Fire Lieutenant Who Died In Line Of Duty Honored

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Fallen hero, laid to rest. Firefighters from across the country turn out to honor Baltimore fire lieutenant James Bethea, who died in the line of duty earlier this month.

This, as the investigation into his death continues.

Meghan McCorkell has more on how Bethea is being remembered.

Flags across the state of Maryland have been lowered to half staff in honor of the 41-year veteran of the Baltimore City Fire Department.

He dedicated his life to the fire service. Thursday, the body of Lt. James Bethea is lifted up by his fellow firefighters and carried to his final resting place.

"Lt. Bethea was more like a gentle giant, a person who would step up to the plate and take that swing whenever you asked him to," said Capt. Roman Clark, Baltimore City Fire Department.

Lt. Bethea, a safety officer, responded to a rowhouse fire Nov. 12. He was checking a vacant home next door when investigators say he fell through the floor into the basement and died from smoke inhalation.

Other firefighters never knew Bethea was in trouble and cleared the scene. His body wasn't discovered until several hours later when another firefighter noticed his car still parked outside the home.

As the lieutenant is laid to rest, city officials have promised a full investigation into his death.

"We're taking this very, very seriously. He was a great man who dedicated himself to safety and who lost his life doing what he was called to do," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

That calling, inspiring firefighters from across the country to attend his funeral.

"This guy, he went into work that day and expected to come home, his family expected him to come home," said Lt. Ariel Jackson, Anne Arundel County Fire Department.

Now, in his final ride on a Squad 40 truck, loved ones say goodbye to a husband, father, grandfather and friend.

Lt. Bethea was 62 years old.

Since Bethea's death, the fire department has started requiring the last firefighters departing any scene to report to dispatchers that the scene is clear.

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