3 fallen firefighters remembered at Washington service

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

3 Washington firefighters killed near Twisp honored as heroes (PHOTOS).

— They stood on Sunday morning in the parking lots of Denny’s and Home Depot on the main drag here of North Wenatchee Avenue, holding U.S. flags and signs that said, “Thank you.” They stood at Leonard Evans Used Cars and the entrance to Toyota Town Center, where they waited for the procession of 120 fire trucks, aid cars, police vehicles and Forest Service trucks to arrive for the memorial service for three fallen firefighters. She had brought her daughter, Lila, along with her, and they had worn as much green as possible — pants, a jacket, a skirt — to try and look like the Forest Service people in attendance. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell in a eulogy said the three dedicated their lives to protecting national forests and the communities around them, and for that everyone should be grateful.

The venue holds 4,500 and was about a third filled, with civilians who sometimes wore summer outfits, and with firefighters from numerous municipalities. It was sad and uplifting at the same time. “Rick, Andrew, and Tom will always be in our thoughts and hearts, and will never be forgotten,” said Mike Williams, supervisor for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Said Mary Zajac about her son, “I’ve never looked closely at the effects of wildfires, but now I see that fires destroy thousands of acres and yet leave small spots the size of a home, or a power plant, or a town water supply completely untouched. “It looks at first like it is some kind of divine intervention but it is not,” she said. “It is the product of human courage and sweat and now tears.

She read a message from Jennifer Zajac, the widow: “Andrew was my calm and my strength; my belay (climbing) partner, my fishing buddy, my hiking companion, my love. I’ll miss him forever.” “I’ve come to realize at the end of any given day, or at the end of a life, the only thing that matters is how many people you love and how many people love you,” she said. “Both of these lists were long for Tom, built through 21 years of the deepest compassion I’ve ever seen or felt in anyone.” A ceremonial bell was rung, three rings, three times.

After the memorial ended, among those in attendance had been a group of those young firefighters seen when the hills are ablaze, all fit, ready to fight.

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