The mutual assistance agreements that New Bedford has with the great people of Acushnet, Dartmouth, and Fairhaven saved our skin on Thanksgiving Day. When the call came in of a working fire on Washburn Steet in New Bedford last Thursday morning, no one knew just how important those mutual aid agreements would be.

The exact cause of the fire that gutted two wooden three-story tenements and damaged a third smaller dwelling has yet to be formally determined, but it appears as if irresponsible cooking may have ignited the inferno. When all was said and done, 27 people were homeless, and at least one person was injured.

Faced with a crisis of escalating proportions, New Bedford Fire officials called upon off-duty firefighters to abandon their feast preparations to help battle the beastly blaze. They also sounded the alarm for help, and as usual, our friends from the surrounding towns came running to man the empty New Bedford firehouses.

There were multiple calls for cooking-related emergencies during that time.

The New Bedford Firefighters performed like the heroes that they are on Thanksgiving, as did the New Bedford Police, Emergency Medical Services, the Red Cross, and all of the others who worked to save lives, property, and care for the displaced and homeless.

But let's not forget the heroes from Acushnet, Dartmouth, and Fairhaven, who spent their Thanksgiving in New Bedford, keeping the rest of the city safe so that New Bedford's first responders could focus their attention on the Washburn Street catastrophe.

We made it through the crisis with a little help from our friends, and for that, we should be grateful. They had our backs when it mattered, just like they always do.

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 and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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