As most of the community celebrates Thanksgiving this week, three families and dozens of firefighters will have their minds somewhere else, on one of the most tragic days in Coos Bay history.
November 25, Thanksgiving day, will mark 19 years since a fire at Far West Truck and Auto claimed the lives of three firefighters, easily the worst day for first responders in Coos Bay’s history.
On that tragic day, dozens of firefighters from Coos Bay, North Bend and elsewhere responded to Far West Truck and Auto after a fire broke out. Captain Randy Carpenter and firefighters Jeff Common and Chuck Hanners were fighting the blaze inside the building and were trapped when the fire got out of control and the roof collapsed.
Despite repeated efforts to reach them and remove them from the blaze, the three firefighters died at the scene. Both Coos Bay and North Bend have memorials near the fire departments, remembering the men who gave their all while working to protect the community.
Coos Bay Fire Chief Mark Anderson released a statement this week remembering the men who sacrificed that day.
“This tragic loss was felt by the entire Coos Bay area and fire service across the state of Oregon,” Anderson wrote. “It was remarkable to see the community, as a whole, grieve the loss of these public servants. The sacrifice that these firefighters made was not a heroic act, but a commitment to serving the community through an inherently dangerous job that they were well trained to do and loved.”
Anderson said it is fitting the 19th anniversary falls on Thanksgiving this year.
“It seems appropriate that we celebrate Thanksgiving on the same day that we mourn the death of these three firefighters,” he wrote. “Personally, I am thankful to live in a community that appreciates and supports the law enforcement and fire service personnel who work to keep our neighborhoods safe. I am also comforted in knowing that even when tragedy strikes, we are resilient.
We honor the loss of our fallen, we express our thankfulness for what we have, and we celebrate the hope for a better future.”