Community grieves fallen firefighter

2Lt. Jeff Little died Saturday morning battling house fire

Author: Scott Johnson, General assignment reporter, sjohnson@wjxt.com
Elizabeth Berry, Evening assignment manager, beth@wjxt.com
Published On: Dec 17 2013 09:37:40 PM EST
Lt. Jeff Little
WAYCROSS, Ga. -

A community joined together Tuesday night to grieve the loss of Waycross Firefighter, Lt. Jeff Little, who died Sunday morning battling a house fire. 

Hundreds of people packed into Central Baptist Church in Waycross Tuesday night to pay their respects to Little.

Little’s brothers, James and Andrew, were among those at Tuesday night’s services.

“I think it’s a senseless tragedy," said James Little. "Don’t know why they did what they did, but grateful for everybody’s support -- fire department, police, multiple departments.”

Waycross police announced the arrest of two men Tuesday, accused of setting the house on fire that killed the firefighter. Little’s brothers told Channel 4 they’ve been overwhelmed by the support of the Waycross Community.

The Little brothers were relieved to hear the news that the two suspects were arrested Tuesday for the arson fire that killed their brother.

“My thoughts don’t really matter because in the end, the law will get them. I’m sorry for them, I hate that their lives are over, but it didn’t do it, they did it,” said Little.

Investigators said a tip from the arson hotline allowed them to develop information leading to the arrests of 17-year-old Zachery Thompson and 23-year-old Ronnie Cranford, both of Waycross.

“I asked the fire marshal if I could have five minutes with them. Not for any nefarious reason, I wanted to put a face on what they did, I wanted to put a face out there on what they’ve done,” said Little.

Tuesday night at city hall, the city council held a moment of silence for the fallen firefighter. Flags were put at half-staff Tuesday night, while across town hundreds paid their respects to Lt. Little.

“We call ourselves a small community," said Waycross Fire Chief David Eddins. "People care and come out ,and Jeff's wife Diane made a comment to thank everybody. And if this is an avenue, I can do that, to thank everybody across the country because it has been a country response.”

“Hero, one word. Hero. I did 20 years in Navy. I’ve met a lot of heroes. I always will continue to think of firemen, paramedics as first line heroes,” said one person who attended Tuesday’s services.

The city made fliers letting people know about Wednesday’s funeral services, which are open to the public at Central Baptist Church located on Ava Street in Waycross. Tuesday’s services start at 2 p.m. Little was originally from Alabama, and his body will return there to be buried.