All men are created equal, then a few become firemen.
Wednesday’s fire in downtown Lumberton really could have been much worse.
It was because of the professionalism of dozens of firefighters, paid and volunteer, that the blaze was kept from spreading to nearby buildings and businesses, thereby creating more uncertainty about the future of downtown Lumberton. All this was managed without anyone being hurt.
The cause of the fire as this is being written remains unknown, but it began about 7 a.m. Firefighters were on the scene in minutes and had the blaze out in less than an hour, so only the building at 305 N. Elm St. was destroyed. The intensity of the fire caused plate-glass windows at neighboring businesses to explode, and there was damage, mostly from smoke and water, to other buildings, but all of that can be repaired and eventually business will be as usual.
Its doesn’t require a very active imagination to consider that, without the work of these firefighters, most — if not all — of the 300 block of Elm Street could have been destroyed, taking a giant bite of downtown, and making an eyesore out of a quaint area with a wonderful history that remains relevant to local commerce.
Had that happened, it could have been a mortal wound for downtown Lumberton as a lot of those businesses, had they enjoyed the resources to rebuild, might have opted for another location, while others would have disappeared forever.
We don’t pause often enough to express our appreciation to firefighters, so now is a good time. They are dedicated public servants who must abandon the tranquility and sanctuary of their own worlds to protect life, limb and property while putting themselves in harm’s way.
On Wednesday, it was the Lumberton department that led the firefighting effort while being ably assisted by volunteers with the Howellsville and Northwoods departments. But there are dozens of fire departments and literally hundreds of firefighters who perform similar work every day in Robeson County, most often without a reporter with a camera and a notebook nearby.
They don’t ask for thanks, but that should not relieve us of the duty of extending it.