FORT KENT - More than 150 people showed their appreciation Saturday afternoon for the efforts of local fire departments and other first responders in their response to the downtown fire in March.
“It fortifies the community spirit,” said Ed Endee, chief of Fort Kent’s fire department. “It’s a great turnout.”
The recognition served 162 people and raised $500, according to Edie Cote, one of the event organizers. The money was given to the Fort Kent fire department, Cote said, to use as they see fit.
Along with several volunteers in the kitchen, young people from the local Cub Scout and Girls Scout troops assisted. The event was held at the Fort Kent Knights of Columbus Hall.
Many awards and citations were given out, first by local merchants and the community, and then by the Fort Kent fire department itself, to a few of its own, and several retired firefighters who assisted that night.
Among the first recognized by the organizers were officers Richard Martin and Tony Enerva, of the Fort Kent police department, who were among the first on scene, evacuating residents with little time to spare. Also presented special recognition for their efforts at quickly responding, even before firefighters had arrived, were Matt Bard and Travis Jones of Fort Kent.
Several departments throughout the Valley, including two from Canada, were also recognized for responding, and were presented awards.
As several people in attendance spoke about how the fire and its effects impacted them, or made note of an especially helpful firefighter or responder.
Norman Cyr, chief of Madawaska’s fire department, reminded people about the importance of mutual aid among local communities.
“What happened in Fort Kent can happen to any of us,” Cyr said.
“I just want to thank the Lord it wasn’t windy that night,” added Norman Albert, whose words elicited a large round of applause from those assembled.
Rudy Martin, assistant chief in Fort Kent, commented that it was the first time he recalls having so many departments working as one unit on a fire.