State lawmakers honor Raleigh firefighters

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State lawmakers honored Raleigh firefighters Thursday, one week after the downtown blaze (WTVD)

State lawmakers took time Thursday to recognize the firefighters who responded to Raleigh's massive downtown fire one week ago.

Rep. Billy Richardson, (D) Cumberland County, and his wife Barbara are among the hundreds of displaced residents, forced out of their homes during the fire that consumed the six-story wood-frame Metropolitan Apartments that were under construction.

The Richardsons had been renting a condo in the Quorum Center since the start of the legislative session earlier this year. They weren't there at the time of the fire but saw the images of the flames shooting into the air, several stories high.

"The fire, the flames, the heat just cooked our curtains, blew our windows out," said Richardson. "And for the firemen to get the residents out before all that happened was just life-changing. I mean, it saved lives."

More than 100 firefighters responded to the fire. On Thursday, members of both the House and the Senate took the time to recognize a dozen of them who were standing in the galleries.

From the House floor, Richardson talked about how the brave men and women not only put out the fire and kept it out, but in the days following they helped him and all the displaced residents get back inside their buildings to grab some of their things.

"They walked us up as much as 14 flights of stairs in full gear," said Richardson. "They protected us. They would not let my wife get near the window. They would not let her carry a thing down those steps. The way that they compassionately and cheerfully and with a shoulder to cry on, did that was just uncommon valor. Uncommon kindness. And it was an example for all of us to follow."

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