Alpena’s true heroes

Hero, as defined by Webster’s dictionary, is “one who shows great courage.”

That being the case, all of us know a number of heroes from this community.

As we looked down Chisholm Street on Sunday, one of those heroes was silhouetted against the sun sneaking out from behind a cloud. Perched in the Alpena Fire Department’s ladder truck, he channeled a spray of water down on a smoldering pile of ashes that used to be the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Billows of smoke, caught up by the wind, at times swallowed his silhouette as if he was never there.

Another hero, worn out and tired, took a moment to sip from a bottle of water. There was a bit of a slump to his shoulders, yet you could tell in his eyes that, while he was exhausted, he still was electrified by the adrenaline pumping through his body.

There was a wide spectrum of heroes at the Habitat fire this week. Young and old, male and female, experienced and inexperienced … they all were there to assist each other in one of the biggest challenges most had ever faced. In total, 28 city and 15 township firefighters were on-scene for more than 12 hours battling a blaze that needed 50,000 gallons of water to be tamed.

Two of the heroes were injured fighting the blaze. Alpena Fire Chief Bill Forbush said there easily could have been more.

“We easily could have lost two of our guys in a millisecond, and it has had an impact on several of us,” Forbush said. “Some of our younger firefighters have never had that close a call, and it is an eye-opening experience and a reminder of what can happen. We got lucky the injuries were somewhat minor.”

Our heroes can’t be found in a comic book, viewed at a movie, or found playing sports.

In our estimation, the real heroes this week were the firefighters Sunday at Chisholm Street.

A grateful community salutes them for their bravery and skill.