Pine Junction, Colorado- On June 24th, 2000, citizens saluted firefighters with a hometown parade honoring their bravery and hard work.

Children rode bicycles with signs exclaiming “Firefighters ROCK,” and dogs meandered with sandwich boards reading “Thank You,” — all for the men and women who decided to stand as the only thing between the town’s homes and raging fires.

A 10,000 acre wildfire that had destroyed 51 homes and had 2,000 more in its path, was about to consume the Nelson home in Switzerland Village. But firefighters outmaneuvered the blaze with a trench, some felled trees, and a foam coating over the home.

“It’s like every firefighter you see, you just want to walk up and shake their hand,” says Keith Nelson, who was among the hundreds lining the streets.

U.S. Forest Service and local firefighters were surprised by the outpouring of appreciation. “I’ve never had a parade like this,” said Jim Gunning, a six-year veteran of fighting fires in the West. “The appreciation is really nice. It’ll just make us try harder in the future.”

(From an Associated Press story)

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