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Out of the ashes hope - Forks Fire 2012
Statement by Forks Mayor Bryon Monohon - Monday, Oct. 29, 2012
It is with a great deal of sadness that the City of Forks awoke to the loss of two of its iconic landmarks due to a massive fire. The heroic efforts of the volunteers of the Fire Departments and the EMTs helped to ensure that the fire did not take even more of the heart of Forks. The volunteer first responders were quickly joined by the Forks Police Department, Forks Public Works Department and the Clallam County Public Utility District staff. Working in tandem, all of our professionals ensured that our losses were kept to a minimum. My heartfelt thanks goes out to each and every man and woman who responded to this tragic event this morning.
We lost two historic icons this morning to fire. Forks experienced a similar tragedy 87 years ago when the town's central district was lost to a fire. Out of those ashes were built two of the buildings we lost today that helped define our community. At the corner of Highway 101/Forks Avenue and Division Street stood for most of the past century a beautiful brick craftsman styled store front that started its life as the Olympic Pharmacy. Over the past nearly nine decades, that building has been a source of commerce and community that served as one of the anchor buildings in our community's business district.
Adjacent to it was the third International Order of the Odd Fellows building that was built by the men and women of this community to serve the community as a meeting place, community center, and entertainment venue. In 1996 and 1997, the City's "Downtown Revitalization Committee" took on the painting of that building as it was beyond the ability of the few remaining members of the Order. In May of 1997, the City accepted the building as a gift from the Grand Lodge of the Order of the Odd Fellows on the condition that for at least ten years, "the land, building and improvements... be used for the purposes of education, recreation and arts for the benefit of the City of Forks." Working with two established art groups, the West Olympic Council for the Arts and the Rainforest Players, the building was painstakingly restored, modernized, and returned to the community for its use. As was the case in its early years, the building saw our children learn to dance in it, artists learned and displayed their talents in, and nearly nine decades of laughter echoed through its clear-grain timbers. The building was insured and we will be working with our insurance company to determine our next short and long term course of action.
Truly, today was a loss to our small community. But, history has a way of teaching us things and our community's history is that from tragic losses come the opportunity to rebuild and renew our commitments to each other and our community as a whole. Our heroes this morning showed us that with hard work, dedication and professionalism, even greater tragedy can be averted and damage contained. Now, we have a great opportunity to set the course for the next couple of generations by looking at what we can rebuild and in rising out of those ashes, renew our sense of who we are and who we want to be as a community. Again, to all the first responders, thank you for the heroic efforts you undertook on our collective behalf today. Your dedication, your professionalism, and your sense of community are and will be a guide to all of us in the weeks ahead. Thank you all for everything you did for your community today, and every day when you respond to those emergency calls.