Porch lights were turned on Tuesday night throughout central Pennsylvania, and far beyond, to honor a fallen firefighter.
Jeff Buck, 18, was a member of Lawrence Township Fire Company and a student at Clearfield Area High School. Buck died Monday after a six-day struggle with injuries he sustained when a porch collapsed on him while responding to a house fire last week.
At 7 p.m. Tuesday, porch lights began glowing in his memory.
Porch Lights for Buck started on Facebook, bringing together the many locals, both emergency personnel and civilians, who were following Buck’s story, hoping for his recovery and then mourning his loss.
Jody Lansberry Becker, of Clearfield, created the event about two hours after word was released that the young firefighter had passed away. In less than 24 hours, nearly 20,000 people had joined the effort.
“I just wanted to honor Jeff’s life and dedication to our community,” said Becker, who didn’t know Buck but was moved by his sacrifice.
What she didn’t expect was the scope of the response.
“I shared it with my friends on Facebook and they shared it. Never in a million years did I think it would grow to what it is today. Last night I saw that someone in England was turning their light on for Jeff as well,” she said.
People pledged to participate from across Clearfield, Centre, Blair, Cambria and other counties. The cause was taken up by people from Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Florida, Texas, Oregon and New York. There were even people planning to light lamps for the teenage hero in British Columbia and Indonesia.
In Centre County, there was response from Philipsburg to State College to Julian to Bellefonte.
“I have great respect for those who serve our community and our country and he was so young, only 18 and just starting his life. He was so brave and I’m sure it was his calling,” said Patti Harpster, of Bellefonte, who posted on the Facebook page.
She said her heart goes out to his family, including his unborn child.
“I’m moved that the community far and wide, whether you knew him and his family or not can come together and show love, respect and support for this brave young man and the loved ones he’s left behind.”