RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) --The massive fire that raged for hours in downtown Raleigh Thursday was devastating in many ways, but it could have been worse if it weren't for the hundreds of firefighters and first responders who rushed toward the flames.
On Tuesday, the city made a point to say thank you to everyone involved in keeping the city safe that night and in the days following.
ABC11 was there as a downtown business owner delivered handmade thank-you cards from his patrons to the firefighters at Raleigh's Station One on Dawson Street.
Zack Medford and his family then went to four more fire stations across the city, dropping off the cards made during a fundraiser he hosted alongside Clyde Cooper's BBQ and The Big Easy last week.
Thanks to donations at the fundraiser, each of the five fire stations received $500 in grocery store gift cards; $500 was donated to the NC Fallen Fire Fighters Fund and another $500 to the Triangle Red Cross.
"This was the Raleigh community coming together and just trying to show them how much these guys mean to us," said Medford.
Kevin Radford, Raleigh Fire Captain, was among the 100-plus firefighters who rushed to the construction site of the Metropolitan Apartments around 10 p.m. Thursday.
The fire forced hundreds of residents from their homes in the nearby Quorum Center and Link Apartments.
"We all join the fire department to help people," Radford said. "Not to sound too modest or whatever, but it's our day-to-day duty, what we do. We get paid just like every other city employee, just like the police officers. We couldn't do what we did the other night without the police department."
At Tuesday's regularly-schedule city council meeting, Mayor Nancy McFarlane was interrupted by applause as she read a statement recognizing the first responders.
"The Raleigh Fire Department proved once again that they are among the best firefighters in the country," she said.
Ruffin Hall, City Manager, took several minutes listing all of agencies and staff who made the fire response swift and safe, including the 911 operators and Solid Waste Department that worked quickly to clear broken glass from shattered windows off the streets and sidewalks.
"I witnessed countless acts of sympathy and support from our employees and from our agencies helping those in need," Hall said. "And that is a part of the culture of this community as well as of our organization. And it demonstrated that sometimes it's about more than just skills and technical knowledge; it's about how we care for our community as well."
As federal and state investigators continue to dig beneath the charred rubble at the scene of the fire to find out what caused it, Medford said what many across the City of Oaks are feeling.
"These guys are there putting their lives on the line and when everybody else is rushing out, they're rushing in," he said of the firefighters. "Thank you guys, from the bottom of our hearts."
READ MORE ABOUT THE DOWNTOWN RALEIGH FIRE HERE
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