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Fallen California firefighters remembered at memorial

  • Story Highlights
  • Capt. Ted Hall and firefighter Specialist Arnie Quinones died on August 30
  • Their vehicle slid down embankment while searching for an escape route for crew
  • Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger offer condolences
  • Officials reportedly expect up to 40,000 to attend Dodger Stadium memorial
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(CNN) -- Mourners gathered Saturday to remember two California firefighters who died last month battling the largest fire in the history of Los Angeles County.

Officials expect as many as 15,000 uniformed firefighters at Saturday's memorial.

Capt. Ted Hall and firefighter Specialist Arnie Quinones died while seeking an escape route for their crew.

"We were all blessed by these two men, and we will continue to be blessed by their example and their spirit. Their deeds and their names live on," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told the crowd at Dodger Stadium.

"Ted Hall and Arnie Quinones, you are giants in my eyes and in the eyes of all Californians."

Hall, a captain, and Quinones, a firefighter specialist, were killed on August 30 when their vehicle slid down a steep embankment in Angeles National Forest.

Schwarzenegger said the two men were searching for an escape route for their crew, which included 55 inmates. The governor said Hall and Quinones had sheltered the crew in a cinder block dining hall.

"Everyone reached safety, except Ted and Arnie," he said. "We are humbled by their courage."

Firefighters are still fighting the blaze, which is 84 percent contained.

Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Frank Garrido said officials expected 15,000 uniformed firefighters and, including members of the public, as many as 40,000 people, CNN affiliate KTLA reported. No official attendance figures were immediately available

"Ted, trusty veteran, widely respected, hardcore firefighter; he was immersed in the fire service," said Dave Gillotte, of Los Angeles County Fire Fighters, Local 1014.

"Arnie, he knew no strangers," Gillotte said. "What a smile, what a family."

Vice President Joe Biden also spoke at the memorial, saying there was "very little that we can do today that is going to bring genuine solace to the empty void that the families are feeling."

Hall is survived by his wife, Katherine, and two sons, Randall, 21, and Steven, 20, as well as his parents. Quinones is survived by his wife, Loressa -- who is expecting the couple's first child within the next several weeks -- his mother, his brother and numerous nieces and nephews, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Biden said the men's wives "knew every time their husbands walked out the door to report for duty, they knew every time that it was a risk. ... but they supported their husbands' doing that job they loved."

He added, "It's above and beyond the call of duty when two fathers seeking to save a building full of people leave their own families behind, that's real courage.

"The only thing we can do for certain, is to promise and keep the promise, we will give the Teds and the Arnies all the support they need, the equipment they need, the capacity they need, for we owe you."

All About CaliforniaWildfiresJoe BidenArnold Schwarzenegger

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