Monday morning dawned like any other morning in early February on Sconticut Neck Road in Fairhaven. But not long after the sun crept above the horizon to reveal a cloudy, cool start to the new work week, things went terribly wrong.

A landmark on "the neck" for decades, Jackson's Variety erupted in flames with its owner Colin Jackson, who is a non-ambulatory elderly man, trapped in an apartment above the store. Two others, including Jackson's niece, were also still inside.

As Fairhaven firefighters arrived on the scene, it was evident that a second alarm would be needed and help from surrounding communities would be summoned to help protect the rest of the town. Flames had already engulfed the rear of the building and thick smoke was billowing from windows on the floors above the family-owned business.

What happened next was amazing. Four men, civilians all, entered the inferno at great risk to themselves to do what they could to assist those still inside. The men were able to guide all three to safety and together they lifted Jackson over a fence surrounding the property and away from the burning building. All three required treatment at the hospital for smoke inhalation but are expected to be okay.

Anthony Cogswell, Dr. David Fall, Ron Rock, and Butch Beauparlard are not looking for accolades for what they did. If you ask them they would tell you that they didn't have to think about it. Getting involved to help someone in trouble was just an instinct. Because of them, Colin Jackson is alive today and injuries to the two other fire victims were minor. What they did was selfless and heroic.

The members of the Fairhaven Fire Department were able to contain and then extinguish the massive fire without it spreading to other structures and with no additional injuries. The Fairhaven Police Department expertly managed traffic and crowd control and the town's EMTs did their part to assist the fire victims.

Jackson's is a total loss. The damage is extensive. It appears as though the cause of the fire may have been accidental. The townspeople have already begun raising money to help the victims of the fire and I sense they will be okay in the end.

During a time of crisis, the people of Fairhaven did what great people in great cities and towns all over America do: they pulled together. And for that, we can be proud and forever thankful.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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