Charging forward into the teeth of danger

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 18, 2006

R-C News-Herald Editorial

Do we have an arsonist living among us?

The answer to that question is currently under investigation.

Do we have several groups of brave men living among us?

Judging from the response of area firefighters on Saturday and Sunday, that question is already answered.

A pair of suspicious fires in downtown Ahoskie over the weekend has left Main Street merchants a bit uneasy. Both blazes, currently under investigation by the Ahoskie Police Department and the SBI Arson Unit, began in broad daylight.

No one was injured in either fire, but personal property damages are in the ten’s of thousands of dollars.

While law enforcement officials continue to sort through the Main Street rubble and hopefully use the evidence to arrest the person or persons responsible for the fires, we should all stop and thank the collective efforts of our area firefighters for going above and beyond the call of duty on a holiday weekend.

With the majority of the Roanoke-Chowan area enjoying the beautiful weekend that accompanied Easter, fire departments from Hertford and Bertie counties descended upon downtown Ahoskie.

In what could best be described as poetry in motion, these men, the majority of which are volunteers, left the comforts of home, traded their shorts and t-shirts for hot and bulky turnout gear and joined together in a common cause.

On Sunday morning, one Murfreesboro fireman in particular said he was summoned to duty just as his young daughters, apparently with big, broad smiles beaming on their innocent faces, were rushing into his living room to see if the Easter Bunny had stopped for a visit.

But that’s the life of a volunteer. No one knows when the call for help will come. Equally speaking, no volunteer firefighter knows for sure when he walks out the door of his home to answer that plea for assistance if he will ever see his family again.

The perils of firefighting can end in deadly consequences, but yet these men charge forward into the teeth of danger, putting their lives on the line in order to protect their friends, their neighbors and, often times, to protect total strangers.

We salute these brave souls who spend countless hours of training just to be prepared for the weekend scenario in Ahoskie. Faced with two blazing infernos, each billowing massive plumes of black smoke, these men hunkered down for the long haul….some remaining on the scene of both fires well after darkness fell.

It’s our wish for a speedy and accurate investigation into the cause of both fires. If they were the work of an arsonist, we wish for an equally quick arrest in order to ease the minds of downtown merchants.

We also send out a big thank-you to the men representing the Ahoskie City, Ahoskie Rural, Aulander, Millennium, Murfreesboro, Union, Williamston and Winton fire departments. An equal salute needs to be given to the Como, Powellsville and St. Johns fire departments for remaining on standby in the event another fire broke out in the local area.

The next time any of these fire departments host a fundraising event, you can say thank-you as well by digging deep in your pockets and supporting their efforts. You never know if their next call may come from your residence or place of business.