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Commentary: Response to Tuesday’s fire impressive

In one way or another I have been a part of this community my entire life. I was born here, I grew up here and I am very fond of this place and the people in it and I am certain there are others that feel the same as me.

I know the destruction of fire; I have experienced first-hand the devastation it causes and without the rapid and courageous efforts of the men and women who work to protect us, our city could look much different today. 

I was truly impressed during Tuesday afternoon’s fire not only at the way law enforcement and other emergency personnel responded; but also other sectors of this community that came together in a true group effort. 

The dedication and devotion put forth by all those involved to protect so much was outstanding to behold.

As a member of the press it is my job to observe, capture and tell the story; to keep others informed.

On Tuesday, I tried to stand out of the way but I was still close enough to feel the heat on my face and the smoke in my lungs.

I could hear the shouts of DNR Forestry and the Park Rapids Fire Department crews echoing through the burning pines yelling out instructions while working diligently to contain the flames.

The unknown heroes in the sky flew directly over me dousing the fire with water and fire retardant.

A kind stranger named Mark stood beside me, both of us captivated and in awe of the circumstances unfolding before us.   

North Memorial Ambulance was on standby while the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Department and the Park Rapids Police Department blocked roads and managed traffic to keep people out of the area.

When so much is at stake in the community you call home it can be hard to stay focused and take direction from those trying to protect you and save what they can. But it is important to remember to keep yourself and others safe by staying out of the way and avoid contributing to the problem.

Most people don’t see past law enforcement, first responders, firemen and paramedics in an emergency situation.

Most of us forget about all the other facets of the operation such as Cumber Construction and Dennis & Girtz Excavating clearing the path for emergency crews, Itasca Mantrap Cooperative watching the power lines, Walmart providing water, Heartland Express helping with evacuations, and so much more that goes unnoticed. 

Even though there was some property damage Tuesday’s events could have unfolded much differently. It is because of the quick actions of so many that no one was hurt and no homes or businesses were lost.

I for one am truly proud to call Park Rapids my home and honored to live in a community that will stand together in a dangerous situation the way it did this week. This was an emergency situation that could have ended much worse than it did.

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