Beyond the Flames
The Story
Part one
Part two
Part three
Part four
Part five
Part six
Part seven
Part eight
About this series
In their own words
Making of a disaster
The sick and the dead
Cancer Incidence
Chemicals at the site
Companies with waste at the site

22 years later:
The sick and the dead

Clarence Banks
Junior firefighter, Chester
As 16-year-old volunteer, spent at least eight hours at burning dump carrying snacks to firefighters. At 38, had massive stroke triggered by brain tumor in May 1999. Paralyzed on left side, living in a nursing home.

Robert J. Boyle
Police officer, Chester
Worked traffic and crowd control at fire at least eight hours; chemicals ruined shoes and uniform. Diagnosed with colon cancer in 1988, at 51. Died the next month, March 28, 1988.

David Chakrabarty
Chester health officer
Rushed to Wade blaze in street clothes, which became soaked in chemicals; stayed several hours collecting samples from grounds. Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 1993, at 57. Died Oct. 5, 1994, age 58.

Marvin R. Cherry
Fire captain, Chester
Fought latter stages of fire; returned at least twice for flare-ups. Diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of lung in 1981, at 40. Died six months later, April 24, 1982.

Robert Coombs
Firefighter, Chester
Fought latter stages of fire. During 1980s, cancerous lesions removed from head and neck, when in his early 50s. Found to have lung and throat cancer in 1999, at 74. Died six months later, Aug. 23, 1999.

Harry "Bud" Cornish
Firefighter, Chester
Fought Wade fire for 20 hours. Diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of lung in 1986, at 49. Died a year later, Feb. 27, 1987.

Eugene Davis
Chester streets worker
Moved debris for several hours at fire; in ensuing week, put in three or four more full shifts there. Diagnosed with large cell undifferentiated lung cancer in 1984, at 58. Died Feb. 22, 1986, age 59.

Norman Doyle
Volunteer firefighter, Upland
Textile worker by trade; part of Upland contingent on Wade fire's front lines. Diagnosed with liver cancer in 1998, at 65. Died Feb. 12, 1998, age 65.

Daniel Elder
Police officer, Chester Patrolled dump area for five years before and after fire; on post-fire patrols, walked grounds several times per shift or sat in car on site. Diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of cecum and colon in 1984, at 34. Still on force.

Thomas Finn
Police officer, Chester
Patrolled Wade dump numerous times after fire. Diagnosed with kidney cancer in 1999, at 49. Underwent surgery to remove kidney. Retired on disability.

Lawrence Fiorelli
Police officer, Chester
Spent more than eight hours at fire, stood in smoke on Commodore Barry Bridge; returned to scene for at least three more full shifts. Diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia in 1985, at 38. Died Aug. 7, 1986, age 40.

John 'Junior' Francis
Firefighter, Chester
Fought fire at least eight hours. Diagnosed with squamous cell cancer of larynx and melanoma on sole of foot in 1978, at 55; with adenocarcinoma of cecum (part of large intestine) in 1991. Died June 16, 1992, age 69.

Robert 'Bobby' Goins
Police officer, Chester
Spent at least nine hours at fire, including traffic detail on bridge. Diagnosed with pulmonary sarcoid, a lung-scarring disease, by 1993, at 46. Retired on disability.

Atwood Griffin
Volunteer firefighter, Chester
Sheet metal mechanic by trade; fought fire at least six hours. Diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of chest wall in 1980, at 53. Died July 9, 1980, age 54.

William P. Hamilton
Police captain, Chester
At fire three to four hours; patrolled site before and after blaze. Diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of lung in 1984, at 55; with cancer of pancreas, unrelated to the lung cancer, in 1988. Died Feb. 2, 1989, age 60.

Rudell 'Rudy' Hollis
Firefighter, Chester
At Wade fire, had to be rescued after falling into chemical pool inside warehouse. Developed kidney failure in 1983, at 33. Underwent transplant in 1996. Still on dialysis. Unemployed.

Richard V. Jones
Police officer, Chester
Twice in week after fire, patrolled site in street clothes; feet soaked by chemicals. Diagnosed with melanoma on left foot in 1979, at 43. Retired.

Michael J. Joyce
Police officer, Chester
Helped secure blazing dump; patrolled site afterward and returned for at least one flare-up. Diagnosed with melanoma on lower right leg in 1990, at 44. Cancer spread to lungs and brain. Died Feb. 1, 1993, age 46.

John T. 'Jack' Lewis
Police officer, Chester
Helped secure fire scene; patrolled dump afterward. Diagnosed with brain cancer in 1985, at 41. Died July 1, 1986, age 42.

Gary McClelland
Junior firefighter, Chester
As 17-year-old volunteer, fought fire about seven hours; fell into chemical pit. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1984, at 23. Currently a registered nurse.

Edward McClintock
Volunteer fire chief, Upland
Painter and construction worker by trade; led front-line contingent. Diagnosed with squamous cell skin cancer in 15 locations on upper body by 1990, at 66. Retired; still being treated.

James McDonald
Fire captain, Chester
Fought the fire through the night. Diagnosed with peripheral vascular disease in 1980, at 49; with adenocarcinoma of lung in 1989, at 58. Died March 5, 1991, age 60.

Richard McGinn
Firefighter, Chester
Worked blaze about 15 hours; returned for flare-up two days later. Diagnosed with precancerous lesions across arms, neck and back in 1985, at 50; with adenocarcinoma of colon by 1992. Died June 29, 1992, age 57.

Vincent 'Moose' McLaughlinFire captain, Chester
Fought fire for 20 hours; returned next day to extinguish smoldering debris, fell into chemicals. Diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 1983, at 44. Died Dec. 2, 1987, age 48.

Robert Ogden
Volunteer fire chief, Chester
Hardware store manager; directed volunteers at fire. Diagnosed with cryptogenic cirrhosis in 1995, at 64. Died June 28, 1996, age 65.

Cleven W. Pender
Firefighter, Chester
While fighting fire, entered warehouse to gather chemical samples. Developed kidney failure by 1992, at 40. Kidney transplant in June 1996 unsuccessful. Died July 7, 1996, age 44.

Thomas O. Pilkington
Police officer, Chester
Stationed atop bridge in heavy smoke and fumes, then worked traffic control; gathered chemical samples with Chakrabarty. Diagnosed with ALS and peripheral neuropathy in 1990, at 45. Died Aug. 13, 1993, age 49.

George Reilly
Volunteer firefighter, Upland
Part of Upland contingent on fire's front lines. Diagnosed with lung cancer in 1980, at 63. Died Jan. 21, 1981, age 64.

John Renninger
U.S. postal worker
Mail route for 12 years included Wade dump site. Diagnosed with anaplastic oat cell lung cancer in 1982, at 40. Died Aug. 1, 1983, age 41.

William Richard
Spent 16 hours at scene treating firefighters in ambulance parked under Commodore Barry Bridge. Diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in 1980, at 29. Still working as paramedic.

Ronald Stevens
Firefighter, Chester
Among those who fought fire inside warehouse. Developed kidney disease by 1993, at 46. One kidney removed. Retired on disability.

Bernard 'Stump' Swanson
Volunteer firefighter, Chester
Machine operator; fought Wade fire eight to 12 hours. Diagnosed with squamous cell lung cancer in 1979, at 42. Died Nov. 25, 1979, age 42.

William 'Bobo' Swanson
Volunteer firefighter, Chester
Water meter reader; battled blaze five to six hours. On dialysis for kidney failure by 1989, at 58. Diagnosed with peripheral vascular disease in 1990. Died Jan. 3, 1991, age 60.

William Taylor
Police officer, Chester
Worked traffic and crowd control at fire; afterward, often patrolled site. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1994, at 49. Retired.

Donald Tees
Stayed at fire scene 17 hours, treating firefighters in smoke-filled ambulance. Diagnosed with brain cancer in 1988, at 38. Underwent two operations and radiation. Tumor remains in inoperable location. Unemployed.

Frank Trasatti Jr.
Firefighter, Chester
Specific duties at fire unknown. Diagnosed with liver cancer in 1995, at 66. Died Dec. 5, 1995, age 66.

Joseph H. Vandergrift
Chester streets superintendent
Supervised streets crews at fire and during following week. Diagnosed with squamous cell lung cancer in 1983, at 68. Lung removed. Died May 23, 1992, age 77.

Robert Lee Walker
Police officer, Chester
Spent eight hours near dump's front gate during fire and entered smoky office. Diagnosed with aplastic anemia by 1982, at 53. Retired on disability.

Curtis Weigand
Firefighter, Chester
Fought fire overnight. Diagnosed with peripheral vascular disease in 1979, at 47. Died Jan. 10, 1986, age 54.

David J. Wojs
Firefighter, Chester
One of most aggressive firefighters on scene. By 1994, at 41, was suffering undiagnosed symptoms he believed to be lupus. Died of self-inflicted gunshot wound, Sept. 3, 1997, age 43.

Thomas Worrilow
Police officer, Chester
At Wade gate about five hours during fire; next day, walked grounds. Diagnosed with melanoma on inner forearm in 1985, at 35; with basal cell cancer on back in 1987. Currently a Delaware County detective.

Mark Zukowski
Junior firefighter, Chester
As 18-year-old volunteer, spent about 24 hours fighting Wade fire. Diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of esophagus in 1992, at 33. Died May 9, 1993, age 34.

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