Pennsylvania firefighter who responded to ground zero after 9/11 attacks dies from cancer

Firefighter who responded to ground zero after 9/11 dies from cancer

VERSAILLES, Pa. — A Pennsylvania volunteer firefighter has died following a battle with lung cancer.

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His wife talked to WPXI-TV's Amy Hudak about his work at ground zero after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

"He was my whole life. He would give you the shirt off his back," Margaret Ursta said.

Margaret Ursta lost her husband of 25 years, Nick Ursta. He died on his 52nd birthday on Tuesday after battling mesothelioma.

Nick Ursta was a Versailles volunteer firefighter for 14 years. He and his wife were dedicated to a life of service. They went directly to ground zero along with a team of local first responders on Sept. 11, 2001.

Ursta said she has no doubt the smoky cloud of debris that lingered in the air from the twin towers collapsing contributed to Nick Ursta's lung cancer.

"He would still be out there, but he'd protect himself a lot better," Margaret Ursta said.

Perry Gricar is the chief of the Versailles Volunteer Fire Department. He knew Nick for 20 years and said everyone lost a brother and a friend.

"I think he wanted to make it to his birthday and watch his last Steelers game, and he did," Gricar said.

Nick Ursta's locker has now been cleaned out.

Margaret Ursta said she's going to have a necklace with her husband's final words: "I love you."