Hundreds line state to honor fallen firefighter

WHITLEY CITY, Ky. (WKYT) - From the top of Kentucky at the Ohio River to his hometown near the stateline with Tennessee, people from across Kentucky paid tribute Tuesday to fallen Whitley City firefighter Arlie "Pooh" Hill.

He died Sunday at a Cincinnati hospital of an infection at the age of 37. While off duty and without proper firefighting gear, Hill ran into a burning home in August to make sure there was no one inside the structure. Hill suffered burns to more than 90 percent of his body.

"The biggest legacy with Pooh will be the sense of humor he brought to our organization," said Chief Tony Miller with the Whitley City Fire Department. "We could be in a serious meeting and he'd always relieve so much stress."

A family friend, Tammie Johnson, says Pooh was always the type to go above and beyond, not letting his prosthetic leg hold him back.

"He just touched so many people. He was just a wonderful person. It's very sad. I just don't know what else to say other than it's just a major loss for our community. He's such a wonderful, all around good person," said Johnson.

On Tuesday, a large processional brought Hill's body home to Whitley City. Fire departments from throughout Cincinnati and Kentucky sent units to join the procession. At last count, there were 54 units in the procession from across the state.

"I want to thank you for giving us an opportunity to get to know Lt. Hill who was a man of strength, a man of courage, and a hero," said one firefighter.

Other departments, like Lexington's, sent units to line Interstate 75 in support of Hill's heroism. Miller had words of praise early in the morning for the many firefighters who kept a constant vigil at Pooh's bedside, even though they never knew him.

"There's no word that can say the support we've received."

His funeral will be held Saturday at McCreary Central High School at 2 p.m. Visitations will be held before that Saturday morning with a private viewing at 9 a.m. and a public viewing at 10 a.m.

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