OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The Shed hosted a free dinner Wednesday for the 150 men and women who fought an 850 acre wildfire two weekends ago in Jackson County. Thanks to their efforts, no one was hurt, and no homes or businesses were damaged.
This was indeed a special meal for the first responders.
"It means a lot to me, because I've never been part of being thanked by the community like this before," said firefighter Nick Balius.
Even at a party, these people are never far from work. Still, this act of kindness touched the hearts, not to mention the stomachs of everyone involved in battling that ferocious fire two and half weeks ago.
Chief Michael Belton of the Fontainebleau Fire Department may have said it best.
"It gives you a great sense of pride," Chief Belton said. "Because when they do something like this to benefit everybody in the departments that participated in such a large event, it just makes everybody feel overwhelmed and wonderful."
When I talked to the people who own and operate the Shed about why they decided to hold the appreciation dinner, they almost said the same thing in unison: The event isn't about the restaurant, it's about the first responders.
"Well, we just want to recognize and bring to the public's attention all 150 plus first responders that took control of this fire and stopped it before any homes or lives were lost," said Shed Marketing Director Linda Orrison.
Even though it's their job to battle potentially deadly fires, it's also a labor of love, according to Chief Jeff Ponson of the Ocean Springs Fire Department.
"We just do it because we love to help people. And it does feel nice when citizens that own businesses and stuff take the time out of their day to show their appreciation for what the job we do," Chief Ponson said.
In addition to the fire two weeks ago, many of the same men and women honored Wednesday also spent this past weekend fighting a 325 acre woods fire, also in Jackson County.