Normally, I would be writing about the Legislature, but this week I want to focus on something very heavy on my heart – the tragic house fire that claimed the lives of four people in Waynoka, two of them firefighters.
This was such a rare tragic event that forever changed the lives of so many in this community and the surrounding area.
On Jan. 29, Waynoka Firefighters Taylor Bradford and Lonnie Bolar responded to a fire at the home of James “Jim” Jones. Jones and Mylinda Walker were trapped inside the burning home. When Bradford and Bolar entered, they were killed when the roof collapsed. Jones and Walker also perished.
These are not just Waynoka residents but family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Their loss is severely felt by so many. I knew all four of these people and even saw some of them as patients. My heart is just broken for their loved ones.
As for the courage of these two brave firefighters and the ultimate act of love they showed for their fellow man, not enough can be said. It’s rare to see such acts of true heroism and courage.
I will be issuing citations in their honor, and the governor ordered state flags lowered to half-mast on the day of their funerals. Many in Waynoka and the surrounding communities have collected funds in their honor. Fire departments from Cherokee to Seiling and many others have been collecting. Windy Ford in Alva is designating a portion of car sales to a fund in their memory. A GoFundMe page has been established. This all speaks of how many lives have been touched by this tragedy and how much each will be deeply missed.
As I consider their bravery, I’m reminded of the words of John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
Of course, we on this side of heaven can never see death as a comfort. We miss our loved ones too much – the warmth of their embrace, their laughter, and all of the things we so greatly treasured about them. Only God in His mercy can see us through such dark valleys and the staggering grief of such loss. For this mercy and comfort I pray for those mourning.