12/28/2010 11:23 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Edward Stringer Remembered: More Than 1,000 Gather For Fallen Firefighter's Funeral (PHOTOS)

Last week, a burning building that had been vacant for years became engulfed in flames. Crews responded to the scene, and several firefighters entered the structure just in case squatters started the blaze and were trapped inside.

Then, a wall and the roof of the building collapsed--trapping four firefighters under debris. Edward Stringer, 47, a 12-year department veteran, and Corey Ankum, 34, who joined the department a little over a year ago, died in the incident.

On Tuesday, more than 1,000 friends, family members and fellow firefighters gathered at St. Rita of Cascia Chapel in Chicago to say goodbye to their friend and colleague, Edward Stringer.

"The guy who never wanted to be thought of as a hero was exactly that: A true hero," fire chaplain Thomas Mulcrone told the Associated Press. "He was one of the first in, one of the last out, always on the front line."

Firefighters came on buses from Canada, Wisconsin and Michigan to pay their respects to Stringer.

"Ed was quite a character, and his antics around the firehouse can only be described as legendary," Thomas Ryan, president of Chicago Firefighters Local 2 told the Chicago Sun-Times. "But he was also a hell of a firefighter. He did his job with great passion, and his skills will be forever missed. Firefighting was a job Ed was born to do."

Ankum's wake is scheduled for Wednesday and his funeral will be Thursday.

Edward Stringer's Funeral