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Articles & Local History > Tampico Firefighters Receive Recognition from Gov. Blagojevich

Firefighters receive honor Volunteers from Ohio, Walnut fought blazes at wildlife areas Saturday, May 7, 2005 HARMON -

Volunteer firefighters from the Ohio and Walnut departments were honored Friday with a new award from the office of Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The People are Today's Heroes (PATH) award recognizes groups or individuals who, through hard work and commitment, have improved the lives of others in their community.

The awards are chosen by and presented through state agencies. The Walnut and Ohio volunteers were recognized by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for their firefighting efforts in March at the Green River State Wildlife Area and Sand Ridge Prairie Habitat Area in Lee and Whiteside counties.

 In addition to the PATH awards, volunteer fire departments in Harmon, Princeton and Tampico received recognition from Blagojevich for helping to fight the fires.

The fires occurred March 29-31. Authorities suspect an arsonist set the fires, and 20-mph winds spread the flames.

"These men and women faced down flames and put out fires in a remote location. They didn't have fire hydrants to draw upon," Blagojevich said in a statement praising the firefighters. "They instead carried heavy backpacks loaded with gallons of water into a natural area to extinguish the flames. They kept the flames from damaging structures and from hurting anyone. They are the embodiment of the word hero."

The IDNR Director Joel Brunsvold presented the awards.

"It does mean a lot that the governor and IDNR acknowledge what we do," said Scott Carlson, chief of the Walnut department. "We did what people do in small communities, where everybody pulls together."

No arrests have been made in the fires. The Illinois Conservation Foundation is offering a $500 reward leading to conviction. Anyone with information on the arsonist's identity is asked to call (815) 625-2968.

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