Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

In Memory of
Fireman Paul R. Widrig, Jr. and Fireman Theodore A. Currie
Appointed July 25, 1970                                    Appointed November 24, 1962
Engine Company 33
B Platoon
Died February 23, 1972
Died of injuries suffered when mezzanine
collapsed at a commercial structure fire.
Union Manufacturing and Distributing Company
241 West 116th Place

* * * * * * * * * *

Fireman Paul R. Widrig, Jr.
Appointed July 25, 1970

Fireman Theodore A. Currie
Appointed November 24, 1962

2600 at Rites 
for 2 Firemen

More than 600 uniformed firemen and police officers have joined some 2000 friends and relatives paying final respects in separate memorial services for two Los Angeles City firemen killed in action.
    Paul R. Widrig, 24,of Newhall and Theodore A. Currie, 34, of La Mirada, died Tuesday when a floor collapsed in a warehouse at 241 W. 116thh Pl., where they were fighting a fire.
    Los Angeles Fire and Police Protective League has offered $5000 reward for information leading to arrest of suspects believed to have burned the building to conceal a robbery.
    Pastor Robert Bingham conducted Widrig's service at First Presbyterian Church, Newhall, where the young fireman taught Sunday school, married his wife Deborah, and baptized his infant son.
    "Some wander aimlessly," said Rev. Bingham, "but Randy knew he wanted to be a fireman. Some never know duty, but Randy knew and did more, always to the best of his ability, helping people in need.
    Currie was eulogized by Fire department Chaplain James Dayen in Utter-McKinley's Downey chapel, calling him a portrait of a fireman."
    "His fellow firemen considered him really gung-ho," Rev. Dayen said.  "He was all fire department in spirit, loyalty and dedication with the gift of inspiration to motivate others."
    Currie's survivors are his widow, Geraldine, and sons Steve, Craig and Kent.  Widrig is survived by his wife and son;  his father, Clyde, a retired Los Angeles policemen;  and brother, Clyde II, a Los Angeles policeman.  Widrig's father-in-law is a Los Angeles County Fire Department fireman-specialist.
    Members of the families and friends crowded the respective chapels while the honor guards heard the service standing at attention in the churchyards.
    The fire caused $100,000 damage to Union Mfg. and Distribution Co.'s storage Building.


The Los Angeles Herald Examiner, February 26, 1972

Fire Station 33



    Two Department members lost their loves while fighting a fire Feb. 22, 1972.  they were Fireman II Paul R. Widrig, 25, and Fireman II Theodore A. Currie, 34.  The Department has suffered a great loss in the death of these two fine young men.
    Paul R. Widrig was born in Los Angeles December 6, 1947, and was appointed to the Department July 25, 1970.  He had been assigned to Battalion 13 since training, and worked at Fire Station 33, "B" Platoon.  He lived in Newhall and is survived by his wife, Deborah, and an infant son, Ryan Paul.  Other survivors include his partners and a brother.  His father is retired from the Los Angeles Police Department.  His older brother is a Los Angeles policeman and his father-in-law is a fireman specialist on the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
    Theodore A. Currie was born in Los Angeles June 7, 1937 and was appointed to the department November 24, 1962.  He lived in La Mirada and had worked at Fire Stations 61, 51, 82 and 22 prior to his assignment to Fire Station 33, "B" Platoon.  He is survived by his wife, Geraldine, and three sons: Steve, 15;  Craig, 13 and Kent, 11.
    The tragedy occurred at the Union Manufacturing and Distributing Co. fire at 241 West 116th Place.  Four men entered the building to attempt to cut off the advance of the fire, when a ceiling area with light storage collapsed.  The other two firemen escaped, but Currie and Widrig were apparently trapped in the debris of the falling ceiling.  Intense heat repelled all rescue attempts.
    According to the Police Department, a burglary had been committed at the scene shortly before the fire broke out, and authorities believe that the fire was set to eradicate evidence of the crime.  Arson investigators are at work on the case.  Department records show that a large number of fires have occurred in this area, some believed to be incendiary.  Firemen have been harassed in their work by small bands of militants, and no this occasion rocks and bottles were being thrown at the firemen as they fought the fire, and even during rescue attempts.  The fire was fueled by supplies stored in the building, and damage is estimated at $100,000.

The Firemen's Grapevine, April 1972

Bystanders Harass Rescue While . . .

Arson Fire Kills Two
City Firefighters

  On the evening of February 22, 1972, two firefighters died in a greater alarm blaze in South Central Los Angeles.  Firefighters Theodore Currie, 34, a ten year veteran and Paul Widrig, 24, with 18 months service, were killed when a mezzanine floor collapsed and buried them under four to five feet of debris.  The coroner's office announced their deaths were due to suffocation.
  The building, a large one story 150-by-75 foot warehouse was well involved with fire when the first of thirteen fire companies arrived shortly before midnight.
  The victims were among four fire fighters form Fire Station 33 who entered the rear of the structure with a 2 1/2" inch hose line in an effort to cut the advance of the fire.  The other two men, Capt. Sam Diannitto (former Vice-President of Local 112) and Fireman Otto McClung narrowly escaped without injury.
  It took fire fighters over an hour of grueling work to recover the bodies of their comrades.  Heat form the flames was so intense that it collapsed steel trusses in the building and buckled walls which further hampered rescue attempts.

  Investigators said that the fire was deliberately set after the building had been burglarized.  During rescue attempts, firefighters were attacked with rocks and bottles hurled by a militant group which gathered at the scene.

  In separate memorial services on February 25, 1972, Los Angeles City Firefighters honored their two fallen colleagues killed in the performance of their duties.
  A morning service was conducted for Theodore Currie in Downey with approximately 500 mourners in attendance.  Currie is survived by his widow Geraldine, and three sons. Steven 15; Craig 13, and Kent 11.
  Afternoon services were held for Paul Widrig in Newhall.  Widrig is survived by his 19 year old widow Deborah and an infant son.  Also Widrig's father, Clyde, a retired policeman, and a brother, Clyde Jr., presently a Los Angeles Policeman.

The Fire Fighter, March 1972

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