Letter: Response to fires was truly a team effort
On Saturday, Feb. 19, catastrophic fires broke out in Gloucester County, affecting many of our citizens and taxing our emergency services to a level not seen in recent history. First, fires broke out in the Guinea area of Gloucester, and as the day progressed, others broke out in the northern end of the county. A combination of dangerously high winds, dry vegetation and humidity levels below 10 percent created a fire of a magnitude not seen in this area for nearly 50 years.
Fortunately for the residents in the Guinea area, no homes were lost. But the same cannot be said for the Adams Creek and Starvation Road areas, located in the northwest area of the county. It is most unfortunate that any homes were lost; but, on the other side of the coin, no serious injuries or loss of life occurred.
Initial firefighting and evacuation efforts were handled by Gloucester Volunteer Fire & Rescue personnel, but quickly evolved into a regional effort. Apparatus and crews responded to assist from the following agencies: Abingdon Volunteer Fire & Rescue Squad, Lower King & Queen Fire Department, James City Volunteer Fire Department, Mathews Volunteer Fire Department, Naval Weapons Station Fire Department, West Point Volunteer Fire Department, York County Fire Department, Virginia Department of Forestry, Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Gloucester Emergency Services, Gloucester Citizens’ Emergency Response Team (CERT), and Gloucester Fire Department Ladies’ Auxiliary. Contractors R.L. Enterprises, C.W. Davis Construction and Richard Coyne provided bulldozers to assist with the plow operation. Many businesses and individuals, too numerous to mention with fear of omitting someone, provided food and beverages for the firefighters.
Another group who was never on scene helped us enormously throughout the entire event—our emergency dispatchers. Their coolness and resourcefulness during the entire event made a lot of things happen that otherwise could not have.
It was indeed a team effort to contain and extinguish this fire, and my heartfelt thanks goes out to each and every individual and organization that contributed in any way. Everyone who participated in this massive undertaking made me proud. But none more so than the personnel of Gloucester Volunteer Fire & Rescue Squad.
One last thank you is in order, and that is to the citizens of Gloucester County. Their tax dollars and donations made it possible for us to have the state-of-the-art tools and equipment necessary to protect our citizens.
J.D. Clements, chief
Gloucester Volunteer Fire & Rescue Squad, Inc.