East Texas Fire Department Remembers Two Brave Firefighters - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


East Texas Fire Department Remembers Two Brave Firefighters

It didn't take long for the news of what happened early Friday morning to travel through the small Noonday community.  Before 10:00 a.m., the parking lot at the fire department was full of people from the community and surrounding fire departments to give their condolences.  A grieving process the fire department said will take a long time.

Helping fight and prevent tragedies in the lives of their community is what the Noonday Volunteer Fire Department lives for.  Captain Kevin Williams, 42, had been with the department for about four years.  He was a leader in the fire department, teaching the younger firefighters like Austin Cheek, 19. 

"He was very involved in the fire department," said Noonday Volunteer Fire Chief Gary Aarant.  "He lived and breathed this.  I guess if he had a way to go, he would want to choose this."

"He would stand there coaching me on, you know.  Giving me a 'that a boy' and would just pat you on the back when you were done," said Noonday Volunteer Firefighter Stewart Potter.  

Cheek joined the department about a year ago.  It was his passion to help others. 

"He was gung-ho," said Potter.  "He did anything and everything.  He loved it.  He wanted to get in and just have fun.  If it was saving someone's life, or going into a burning building he was there." 

Williams and Cheek did not just have a strong presence in the fire department, but the entire community.  As soon as it opened, The Blue Store, located just down the street from the fire department, learned two of its loyal customers had been killed.

"It's sad, I mean I know these people," said Blue Store employee Robyn Haws.  "They come in all the time.  One was so young and the other was in here two or three times a day."

"Awesome men, just awesome," said Blue Store employee Billy Delong.  "Always smiling.  I have no doubt Kevin was doing everything he could.  I don't know the circumstances, but he was a courageous man." 

It will take awhile, the fire department says, before it will be able to move on from such a tragic event.

"Is it worth it?" asked Aarant.  "I know we have a purpose, and I know we are really good at what we do, but how this happened I don't know." 

They do have one request.

"Pray, we need prayer," said Potter.  "This department needs it. The firefighters that were actually there are so heartbroken right now." 

The fire department also asked for prayers for the families of the two very brave firefighters.

Molly Reuter, Reporting.   mreuter@kltv.com

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