Viral Video Shows Firefighters Saving American Flag as Fire Destroys Building

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
March 4, 2019Trending
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Viral Video Shows Firefighters Saving American Flag as Fire Destroys Building
Firefighters take down an American flag, saving it from flames, in Hopewell, Va., on Feb. 28, 2019. (Hopewell Fire & Rescue)

A viral video shows firefighters in Virginia saving an American flag from a blaze.

Hopewell Fire Chief Donny Hunter said it was a split-second decision to save the flag from its pole outside the Hopewell Moose Lodge as the building burned.

He said firefighters had just seen the Moose Lodge flag fall off the pole and into the fire.

“That flag drop, which made us realize that the American flag and the Virginia flag were probably getting close to the same fate,” he told WTVR.

Hunter and firefighter Tommy Cibula worked together to grab the flag while firefighter Jamie Bridgeman used a hose to keep the flames away from them.

Posted by Hopewell Fire & Rescue on Sunday, 3 March 2019

“I saw chief going to get the flag and we work as a team,” said Cibula. “I’m not going to let our fire chief sit there and do that by himself.”

Hunter said saving the flag felt “like the right thing” to do.

“One as a symbol of the country. Two as a symbol to them to hopefully bring back to them some piece of the building that we were actually losing in the firefight,” he added.

“The Moose is an important part of the community and we were truly hoping to give them something back as part of the Moose. They’ve done a lot for us.”

Hopewell Fire Capt. Heather Meyers told WRIC that the blaze was called in around 4:30 a.m. on Feb. 28. By the time firefighters arrived, heavy flames had engulfed the middle of the building, also known as the Hopewell Moose Family Center.

Firefighters spent hours battling the flames, trying to get the fire under control.

By the time the battle ended, the building was a total loss.

The cause of the fire wasn’t clear.

Thank You to EVERYONE in Hopewell Fire and know that it’s your dedication and service to the City that makes me PROUD to…

Posted by Hopewell Fire & Rescue on Sunday, 3 March 2019

Brad Ozmore, the administrator of the building, said that he thought he was dreaming when he was first told the center was on fire.

“I didn’t expect what I saw when I arrived,” Ozmore told The Progress-Index. “I was sad because there are a lot of memories for our members and the community that have participated in events here. We consider them all family.”

Myers said the destruction was sad. “The Moose has a lot of history in the city and a lot of families have many memories here,” she said.

Ozmore said lodge members are planning to rebuild. “Our hope is to rebuild and to remain a value to the Tri-City Area during this unforeseen transition,” he said.

In a post several days after the fire, Hunter responded to the praise his department was receiving for rescuing the flag.

“Thank You to EVERYONE in Hopewell Fire and know that it’s your dedication and service to the City that makes me PROUD to be your Fire Chief. The Moose fire is definitely one of the top 3 fires in my career and I know how hard everyone worked because I see it every day!” he wrote.

“This has been one of the most overwhelming and amazing things I’ve ever been involved in,” he continued.

He added, “All of the Media and Social media coverage over what was just the right thing to do has been crazy! Thanks to everyone who supports Hopewell Fire everyday. So proud to be your Chief.”

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