|Agency||Tolono Fire Department|
|Type of Firefighter||Volunteer|
|Age Range||41 to 45|
|Date of Birth||6/25/1939|
|Date of Death||8/8/1983|
|Cause of Death||Contact/Exposure|
|Nature of Death||Asphyxiation|
|Attribute of Death||Smoke inhalation|
|Type of Duty||Search and rescue operations|
On August 8, 1983, Tolono Fire Department Firefighter Lawrence Bleichner died in the line of duty while attempting to rescue four members of his family from a residential fire at his home at 203 West Vine Street in Tolono.
Firefighter Bleichner called the Tolono fire emergency phone at approximately 12:45AM and reported that the back porch of his residence was on fire. Firefighters from the Tolono Fire Department responded to the home within three minutes and found the back portion of the two-story residence totally engulfed in flames. Within minutes of their arrival, firefighters entered the home for a primary search and encountered intense heat and smoke.
Firefighters discovered Bleichner’s body and the bodies of his wife, Anna Bleichner; his stepson, James Miller; his son, Eugene Bleichner; and his daughter, Kimberly Bleichner, in the master bedroom on the second story of the house. All five had succumbed to asphyxiation and smoke inhalation.
Funeral services for Bleichner and the four members of his family who perished in the fire were held at St. Patrick’s Church in Tolono. They were buried at Grandview Memorial Gardens in Champaign.
Bleichner had been a member of the Tolono Fire Department for 12 years and was the son of a Tolono firefighter. He had been employed as a maintenance man at the University of Illinois for 16 years at the time of his death.
“Fire kills 5 in Tolono,” News-Gazette, August 8, 1983.