RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Some victims of last week’s five-alarm fire met their rescuers again Thursday during a special ceremony at the North Carolina General Assembly.
Legislators honored the firefighters at the start of the day’s session. For one of the state representatives, Billy Richardson, the fire didn’t hit close to home. It literally hit his home.
Richardson owns one of the condos at the Quorum Center, which is within walking distance of his legislative office and the Capitol. He represents Fayetteville, but stays in Raleigh when the legislature is in session. His unit and dozens of others sustained significant damage in the fire.
He and other members of the state house invited the firefighters to the General Assembly for recognition. Richardson read a personal statement of thanks as well as notes from some neighbors.
“It was such a hot, dangerous fire, and the way they went about getting it under control and getting people out of buildings was just heroic,” Richardson said.
“The way they treated us and the way they made us feel so special, and they had to be exhausted. For them to do that was just way beyond the call of duty.”
Several other Quorum Center residents also attended the event, and hugged some of the firefighters afterward.
“We are very much a community, and we felt such an outpouring of love and compassion, not only from the community but from all of the firefighters and all of the first responders last Thursday and really every day and night since then. They need to be recognized and we wanted to be here,” said Angela Brady, the president of the Quorum Center Residential Board.
“It’s hard to recognize them in their dress uniforms. We know them in their full gear, moving up and down 14, 15 flights of stairs without flinching.”
Brady provided CBS North Carolina with the following statement on behalf of Quorum Center residents:
Thursday, March 16 is a night that not one of us will ever forget…not because of our racing hearts and fear of what we might face the following morning. Not because of the tears we shed or the ferocity of the inferno we gazed into for hours. We will never forget the night of Thursday, March 16 because of the noble actions of a human force who stared down epic flames, and like lead into gold, turned destruction into hope.
We remember the night of March 16 for the fierceness of our firefighters, but we treasure the days that followed for their gentle hearts, unwavering strength, and kind, generous souls. We remember the firefighter in full gear who carried a basket of soiled laundry down nine flights of stairs for a family who had just lost their home. We remember the sooty face of a tired firefighter who insisted on shouldering the weight of rescued mementos. We remember the all-too-brief moments we spent thanking the women and men who voluntarily bore such great responsibility, yet dispensed such colossal hope.
When we tell our stories of that night, it is not the exodus from our homes that we recall, but the heroic and compassionate actions of the Raleigh Fire Department. We tell tales of women and men who marched into the unknown, then continued to give when the danger abated. With every remembrance…with every tale we share…we thank them with a gratitude that we will forever hold in the memory of our hearts.