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Fire District offers help on McIver park blaze, remembers the sacrifices during 9/11 attack

Colton Rural Fire Protection District #70 sent five firefighters, two brush rigs and a water tender to help contain the wildfire in Milo McIver State Park in Estacada from 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 until about 2:30 p.m. the following day.

The onsite volunteer firefighters responded to two motor vehicle accidents, medical emergencies and a fire call at the junction of Highway 211 and Elwood Road when a transformer blew and started a ground fire.

"The calls to 911 (about Elwood incident) stated a telephone pole was smoking and there were flames, the ground was igniting, and there were live electrical wires sparking," Fire Chief Todd Gary said. "It could have been so much worse, but our volunteers were ready and on scene in minutes. They were able to get it extinguished before it spread."

PMG PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - Colton volunteer firefighters Zach Boots, Mike Decristoforo and Nate Kulland raise the colors at the 9/11 memorial event.

On Sunday, Sept. 11, the Colton firefighters hosted a 9/11 memorial ceremony in front of the Colton Fire Station, but not without having to respond to an emergency call during the beginning moments of the event.

Gary opened the event by saying, "This is a day of remembrance for those lost in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It is a time to remember and reflect on the sacrifices of those who died and those who sacrificed to save others."

Fire department chaplain John Mcadoo added a word of prayer. The American flag was then raised and lowered to half-staff in remembrance of the nearly 3,000 men and women who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Chief Gary asked two local military veterans, Jon Bricker and Tony Kollias, to speak at the event.

Kollias was part of the Air National Guard, but serving in law enforcement at the time of the attacks on U.S. soil. He was called back to active duty and served for one-and-a-half years before returning to his full-time job in law enforcement.

He went on to serve as a law enforcement officer for 27 years and developed the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office current peer support team. He recently joined Colton Fire District as a peer support chaplain.

John Bricker was serving in the Army NationalGuard during the attacks. In his speech he said, "You are unable to forget where you were on 9/11. It felt like the end of the world, the end of times, the enemy had attacked the United State and that brought changes to the military in our country. This is when technology began to change the face of war. It has been 21 years since the 'War on Terror' began and the advances in technology in weaponry, surveillance and public safety in America, are immense. In other words, you can no longer break into a cockpit with a box knife."

A traditional bell ceremony was held using an old fire alarm bell found on the wall in the upstairs of the fire station. Gary explained the meaning: "In the past, as firefighters began their tour of duty, a bell signaled the beginning of the shift. A bell ringing during a shift summoned the responders to fight fires and when the fire was out a bell signaled the completion of the call. Bells were used on the front of apparatus to warn the public that they were responding and when a firefighter died in the line of duty, it was the tolling of the bell that announced their passing. To honor the devotion of the firefighters at Ground Zero today, we will toll in a traditional bell service a special signal of three rings, three times each, to represent the end of the duties of the fallen firefighters of 9/11."

Colton Fire Chaplain Tim Behrens gave the ceremony's closing remarks, "We are here to remember those who ran in, not away, but into the flames; may we never forget. We stand together and do not fear, we look to God for our eternal hope."

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