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Palmer Strong: West Reading community remembers lives lost at vigil

West Reading community remember lives lost at vigil
West Reading community remember lives lost at vigil 02:20

BERKS COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) – A week after an explosion at a West Reading candy factory left seven dead and several others injured, the West Reading community held a vigil.

Hundreds came together in West Reading Friday night to show solidarity and support for the families of the seven victims lost in the R.M. Palmer explosion. The community came together as one.

"We are really sad for all that is happening right now," Mahalia Rodriguez said. "We're here to support."

Before heading down to the West Reading Fire Department, many met at the Bethany Lutheran Church.

Together they talked, prayed, and lit seven candles in honor of the seven lives lost.

"Many people from West Reading walk down there to work," Pastor Bruce Osterhout said. "There's that deep connection."

Daniel Brooks joined the group as they walked from the church to the fire department for the vigil. The R.M. Palmer employee came out in honor of his coworkers. He was in the neighboring building when the explosion happened last Friday.

"Needs time to cope, grieve with my coworkers and friends," Brooks said. "They're basically my family too."

As night fell, first responders, families, neighbors, and friends shared in grief during the candlelight vigil. Chaplains and therapy dogs joined too.

Marta Romero says one of the victims, Judy Lopez, was like a sister to her. She's still in disbelief over what happened.

"The world is like frozen for me right now," Romero said.

Through tears, hugs and prayers, the West Reading Borough community began to heal together.

Or as they say, they're Palmer Strong.

"I don't think it'll ever go away," Romero said. 

"She will always be in my heart," Romero said. "It's going to take a long time, I don't even think it's ever going to go away. It won't go away."

A memorial at the West Reading Fire Dept. continues to grow.

At last check, for the West Reading Disaster Relief Fund some $400,000+ has been raised for the families and those impacted.

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