Editorial: Heroism in spite of tragedy

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Editorial board members:

• Al Cashion

— Community representative

• Bryce Jacobson

— Newspaper representative

• Bridget Manley

— Newspaper representative

• Chris Nichols

— Community representative

• Jeff Pleasant

— Community representative

• Joshua Roberts

— Newspaper representative

Our View

Lives were tragically lost in a Feb. 7 home fire on Woodland Avenue in Craig, but the efforts by three Craig Police Department officers to save a 75-year-old man, along with Craig Fire/Rescue’s work battling the blaze and attempting to save a 67-year-old woman’s life are an example of the bravery our public servants in uniform carry each day.

Monday morning was met with sad news in Craig and Moffat County when the family of Craig resident Patrick Hunter announced the 75-year-old man had succumbed to smoke inhalation sustained in a Feb. 7 home fire on Woodland Avenue.

The loss compounded an already tragic event for the community — 67-year-old Ursula Hunter, Patrick’s ex-wife and live-in companion, could not be saved from the fire. Efforts were made, but sadly Ursula’s injuries were too severe.

But, there was nothing more our brave public servants in uniform from the Craig Police Department, Craig Fire/Rescue and The Memorial Hospital EMS could have done to save the couple.

Efforts by all involved were exemplary.

Three Craig Police Department officers — Sgt. Corey Wagner and officers Lance Eldridge and Mike Edwards — were first to the scene and pulled Patrick from the home.

They didn’t go looking for glory, but responded to the man they heard inside, followed proper protocol and worked as a unit to get him to safety.

Their efforts gave Patrick a chance.

That the smoke inhalation was too severe and he could not recover is unfortunate. But, our police acted in Patrick’s best interest, in the community’s and were safe in doing so.

The editorial board commends and thanks the officers for their heroic efforts.

Wagner, Eldridge and Edwards’ bravery is a reminder to the community the police department, despite the occasional bit of bad press in recent years, is a valuable public agency that contributes greatly to the community’s well being.

The department isn’t always perfect, certainly, but the editorial board ventures to say just about every day officers do something in their jurisdiction that makes a positive difference, and those acts often fly under the radar.

The same could be said of firefighters and support personnel of Craig Fire/Rescue.

The fire department also played a pivotal role on Woodland Avenue.

Firefighters responded swiftly to the structure fire, limited damage to the Hunter home, and also kept the blaze from spreading to the surrounding neighborhood.

The Woodland fire was the department’s fourth structure fire in 24 hours, according to reports, meaning our volunteer personnel were likely a tired group by the time the evening call came in.

In fact, firefighters saved another home earlier in the day, this one belonging to Bill and Ruth Ann Greenwood, on Moffat County Road 29, 13 miles east of Craig.

The fire department, assisted by Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz, who was first on the scene, limited the fire to a second-story bedroom where it began, keeping it from consuming the rest of the home and the family’s belongings.

The Greenwoods commended the fire department in a letter to the editor, and also praised department personnel in a phone call to the Craig Daily Press for its delicate handling of property and belongings inside the home.

All in all, firefighters did a fantastic job last week, making the extraordinary look ordinary, and there are homes still standing today with families still living in them because of it.

The editorial board also believes the Woodland fire was a good example of interagency cooperation and teamwork.

No one was seeking glory and there was no turf war, just valiant work by agencies for the betterment of the community.

The editorial board offers Patrick and Ursula’s family our sympathies. Losing someone is never easy, especially under difficult circumstances like the fire, and our thoughts and prayers are with you today.

Although the outcome of the Woodland fire is a tragic ending, we hope police and firefighters aren’t overlooked. The community is blessed to have servants who exhibit such bravery and heroism on an almost daily basis.

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