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Beavercreek thanks base Fire Department for assistance after tornadoes

Aaron Krueger could barely see neighbors’ homes from his on Murwood Court in Beavercreek before the Memorial Day tornadoes swept through heavily wooded Grange View Acres. Now some of the homes are gone and others are in plain view. CHRIS STEWART / CMGO STAFF
Aaron Krueger could barely see neighbors’ homes from his on Murwood Court in Beavercreek before the Memorial Day tornadoes swept through heavily wooded Grange View Acres. Now some of the homes are gone and others are in plain view. CHRIS STEWART / CMGO STAFF

Officials from the Beavercreek Township and Beavercreek Fire Department visited Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Dec. 13 to personally thank the Wright-Patterson Fire Department for its assistance following the May 27-28 tornadoes.

A series of 14 tornadoes struck the Miami Valley region the night of May 27-28, ranging in strength from EF0 to EF4, according to the National Weather Service.

One of the EF3 tornadoes left a 10-mile path that went through Beavercreek, causing extensive damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure along its path, putting the skills of local emergency responders to the test.

The Wright-Patterson Fire Department came to the assistance of several local communities immediately following the tornadoes, including Beavercreek.

“The night of the tornado, you’re overwhelmed in the community and your resources are depleted, so we have to rely on our neighbors,” said Alexander Zaharieff, Beavercreek Township administrator and Public Safety director. “Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is one of our neighbors, and they responded that night to assist us,”

“The tornado devastated about 30 percent of the Beavercreek community. It was on the ground for over 40 minutes, which is unheard of, from Brookeville all the way to Ross Township in Greene County,” he said.

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The Wright-Patterson crew performed door-to-door searches with local emergency crews, and the combined Beavercreek and Wright-Patterson responders completed three searches by 8 a.m. that next morning. The Wright-Patterson crew even rescued one resident who was trapped in her house by debris.

“When things were slowing down, we were going to release Wright-Patt Fire [Department] to go back to the base, and they said, ‘No, we’re here to help. We’re here to help your crews.’” said Zaharieff. “They wanted to stay. They wanted to help. That shows the level of commitment to not only the base but to the community at large, and we kept them until 8 a.m. the next morning and they did a great job.”

The six firefighters singled out for recognition during the ceremony were: Tracy Watts, lead firefighter; Thomas Trost, driver operator; Paul Malleck, Firefighter/Intermediate Paramedic; Jonathan Pohlabel, Firefighter; Richard Stiles, dispatcher; and Stephanie Nevin, dispatcher.

The Wright-Patterson Fire Department came to the assistance of several local communities immediately following the tornadoes, as part of existing mutual aid agreements.

The mutual aid concept is a standard practice in communities across the nation, with local emergency response agencies signing agreements to help one another when an emergency situation requires more resources than what a single community has available. Mutual aid is also requested and offered during non-emergency situations, such as when specialized skills sets or equipment is required, or when community events maximize demand on responder resources.

“It’s important that we all work together during major incidents, we definitely rely on mutual aid,” said Zaharieff. “We want enough people on scene at any incident to one, ensure the community is safe, and that our firefighters will be safe in the operation, and we do work day to day with Wright-Patterson Fire Department. It’s a great partnership that we’ve valued for years.”