Family remembers son, brother one year after fatal house fire

LEAF RIVER, Ill. (WIFR) -- A Leaf Fiver family is remembering a 19-year-old firefighter who was killed in a fire in his own home.

"From the time he was a year old, 'I wanna be a firefighter, mom, a firefighter,'" says Gregory's mother Nicole.

Gregory Wood was born ready to serve.

"He decided he wanted to follow in my footsteps," said Gregory's father Marcus.

Being a family of firefighters for the German Valley Fire Department and the Leaf River Fire Department, Marcus never thought they'd use the training to save their own home.

"My initial thoughts were, 'Oh my god I can't believe this is happening," said Marcus.

One year ago Saturday, the Wood family's Leaf River home caught fire while Gregory asleep. That was the last Marcus saw of his son.

"At one point I had the three of them out, and for some odd reason, while we were moving vehicles, he went back in after something and unfortunately he wasn't able to make it back out," said Marcus.

Over the last year, the Wood family has found small ways to pay tribute by dedicating a brick to Gregory at the Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Springfield and through continuing their work as volunteer firefighters.

"We believe by getting back on the truck, that's our way to honor him," said Marcus.

Marcus says everyone should check their smoke alarms and make sure their family has an escape plan in case of a fire.