To The Guardian Angels Who Watch Over Us In Disastrous Situations

To The Reader’s Forum:

Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen of our volunteer fire services in Westfield, surrounding communities and all of Chautauqua County.

Late Tuesday afternoon a local contractor finished removing several very old, large, dangerous trees that were a threat to my home and business should high winds occur as they so often do along the Lake Erie shoreline. The work was efficient, and a beautiful job was completed. They removed most of their equipment leaving only a bit of saw dust in the grass like fine snow.

I thanked them for a great job and began preparing dinner as the sun set on a lovely, unseasonable, warm afternoon. I noticed an orange glow in the sky in the north. When I investigated, my woods were just starting on fire. At first, I thought it was no problem, but the small fire was fanned by the wind like a blow torch.

Within three minutes the debris on the floor of the forest was on fire and spreading. I called 911.

Beginning with the lady who answered my 911 call, to the prompt response from the Westfield Fire Department to the excellent judgment of Jerry Ruch, the Westfield Fire Chief, it was a professional, well-organized, efficient operation that saved my home and business.

Many times we see pictures of burned structures, disastrous loss to human life and property and we are thankful to the volunteers who rush to our rescue. This time, the story is one of prevention. It is the best scenario for the property owner. It is a success story for our fire departments, demonstrating the importance of their training and expertise.

Had the wind direction changed, the fire personnel been less trained, the leadership not as spot-on, and the response time of all those guardian angels so fast and efficient, I would not have a home and business standing today. I stood, helpless to stop the wind and fire. I was anticipating the loss of everything.

This Christmas, please think about the men and women who risk their lives, give their time for training, and show up no matter what else is going on in their lives. A donation to the volunteers who give their service is one way to insure the continuation of this protection we hope we will never need.

Thank you to each and every one of you. The title of my memoir is Asses and Angels, and you certainly have earned a place in the sequel in the “Angel” category.


Gail L. Black