NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) - North Las Vegas firefighters provided a sad gift to a woman in Florida, when they chipped in funds to cremate and send to her the ashes of her 62-year-old homeless brother, who died after a Thanksgiving trash bin fire.
Wayne Green's sister, Betty Green, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal (http://bit.ly/tFUhFj ) for a Monday report that it was the happiest ending she could hope for under the circumstances.
Wayne Green died at University Medical Center in Las Vegas in early December, about a week after he was badly burned in a Nov. 24 trash bin fire.
Betty Green lives in Jacksonville, Fla. She said she learned her brother was homeless about the same time she learned of his death.
"He was just poor, just sleeping, you know?" she said. "And then to have it happen Thanksgiving night, it just kills me. I was home safe and warm."
Betty Green said her older brother was a U.S. Navy veteran who worked as a house painter after moving to the Las Vegas area about 10 years ago. She said she hadn't heard from him since Christmas Eve a few years ago.
Their mother died in 2010. Their father died earlier this year. Betty Green said she didn't know how to find her brother to tell him about the deaths.
Kevin Brame, a North Las Vegas deputy fire chief, said firefighters realized Betty Green couldn't immediately afford to pay for cremation and to get the ashes to Jacksonville.
"It's an American tragedy that anybody in this country lives behind a Dumpster," Brame said. "We needed to step up. This occurred in our city. This was one of our citizens. We were trying to provide him with a little honor and dignity."
Southwest Airlines provided two free tickets for firefighters to escort the ashes home to Florida. They were delivered last Tuesday.
Betty Green said the ashes have been placed near the mausoleum where their parents were laid to rest.
She said she believes Wayne Green probably suffered during the downturn in the economy in recent years, and might have been too embarrassed to seek help.
Betty Green said she feels for families missing loved ones during the holidays.
"I've got answers, but they'll break your heart," she said. "If you're in trouble like that, you need to call your family or someone."
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com
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