Last night an event brought our community together in a way that is terrible and sad. Dozens of us gathered on Mary Street in the Bridge Valley development of Mount Joy to watch helplessly as our gracious firefighters from communities all around us tried to put out a blaze in a home down the street from us. As is the norm, rumors spread quickly about who, what and why. We all knew one thing: we had heard a terrible explosion and were worried about our neighbors.
This morning we found out that an elderly woman passed away in the fire. She was unable to be saved after an initial sweep did not find her and the firefighters were forced to evacuate the building due to the heavy fire load. Reports indicate that 7 adults and 8 children are being cared for the by American Red Cross here in Lancaster.
I think all of us standing there felt torn – nothing we could do, no way we could help in that instant. Wishing our firefighters safety and the people impacted to be OK. The most devastating part of the night was when a young man came running down the street straight into the home. The firefighters pulled him out and he collapsed sobbing on the lawn outside the home. We understand that his mother is the one who passed away inside. When you see grief so vividly displayed you stop, you pray, you hope the story unfolding in front of you is not as horrible as it seems in that moment.
Yet we all woke up this morning, some drove past the gutted home, and my neighborhood Facebook page has grown with posts of concern and wonder on how they may help. Again, a sad way for our community to come together, yet neat to see how many people come forward to help.
A new neighbor to us, the man standing next to me, mentioned how amazed he was at all the local fire companies that showed up, quickly, last night to assist our West Hempfield firefighters. It makes you proud for the community we do have, that for a night all politics aside, all race is one, and the power of community is displayed in how everyone wants to help.