APPLETON — Residents here have paid their final respects to a firefighter killed in the line of duty.
Hundreds lined a procession route for Mitch Lundgaard, 36, that wound through Appleton on Monday, starting at a funeral home and ending at Appleton Alliance Church, where a public visitation was held. Lundgaard’s body was taken back to the funeral home following an evening service, which was not open to the public.
Lundgaard’s family released a statement saying the “outpouring of support” from the community in the past week “has been astonishing to us.”
Sheila Stojak of Grand Chute told the Post Crescent she came to “honor someone that’s given his life for all of us, so that we can be safe.”
Retired firefighter Linda Femal said the death of Lundgaard, a 14-year veteran of the Appleton Fire Department, hits “close to home.”
“You think maybe you can die in a fire, but not a shooting. You’re just going to a medical call and he ends up losing his life,” said Femal, who attended the procession to show her support.
About 90 minutes after the public visitation began, the city reported the church was at capacity and asked the community not to go there because there was not enough time to get everyone through.
The husband and father of three was killed in the crossfire of a gunfight between police and a Wausau man who also died in the exchange of gunfire.
Lundgaard was the first Appleton firefighter in 86 years to die in the line of duty.
Madison firefighters were among those who paid their respects and helped their Appleton counterparts Monday.
A Madison Fire Department engine with a crew of five was in Appleton to provide coverage out of Fire Station One, so the local firefighters could pay their respects.
The Madison unit was one of six from across Wisconsin that provided coverage to Appleton’s six fire stations.
The crews were working a 12-hour shift that began Monday morning.
A busload of Madison firefighters also went to Appleton to pay their respects.