Lockport community honors first responders

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — After hundreds of firefighters battled a massive fire at High Tread International for three days straight, a community is showing their gratitude to the men and women who protected their neighborhoods.

“I just, from the bottom of my heart, from the community’s heart, proves we love them,” said Kathy Okeefe, owner of Windsor Village and Lockport resident.

Okeefe has owned a business in Lockport for years. She said if it wasn’t for the brave firefighters she could have lost everything.

“When I pulled up, it looked like the fire was right there on my building and the fire department was so instrumental in keeping that at bay, I mean I got almost a 200 year old building here, the wrong ember could have been disastrous for us,” said Okeefe.

OKeefe and hundreds of others were evacuated during the fire. Families forced to leave their livelihood behind while praying the scorching flames would miss their homes.

“Our goal was to save as much as possible for the community and save everyone from having to rebuild if necessary,” said Jeremy Klever, volunteer firefighter with Cambria Fire Company.

Crews battled the flames during extreme heat and at all hours of the day and night.

Now a community is reminding them just how thankful they are by hosting a neighborhood picnic.

“This event here tonight is very remarkable and very thankful, very unexpected and very much appreciated,” said Chief Time Williams, Wrights Corners Fire Company.

“In hard times they certainly pull together, this was hard times right here in this neighborhood. Folks did a great job, just a stupendous job,” said Fire Chief Patrick Brady, Lockport Fire Department.

Organizers said there has been an outpouring of donations since the fire. All the food at Thursday night’s picnic was donated by Lockport restaurants.

Cash donations will be split between Lockport Fire, Police and the Salvation Army.

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