From: The Islamic Center of Winona Board of Directors and Council of Trustees
Not surprising, the downtown fire ranked as a top local news story of 2013. As the year ended, the effects of the fire have been felt and its traces are being erased. The Muslim community is beginning to rebuild and was fortunate to find a temporary location to use for worship. As it begins the new year, the Muslim community wishes to send this message to the Winona community.
As we begin to regroup and rebuild after the fire of Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, the Muslim community in Winona wishes to acknowledge the heroic efforts of the Fire Departments of Winona, Goodview, Wilson, and Rushford in dousing the fire. The heroes of the fire departments spared no effort to save the surrounding buildings and to prevent the fire from spreading to the whole block, and maybe even more. Whether the buildings fell or remained standing, so many valuable mementoes and irreplaceable items became victims of the unforgiving fire. So many cherished memories will have to remain as such since the physical evidence of their existence has disappeared. But go on… we must.
We need to look at the positive. The best part about Friday the 13th in the downtown area is that no one suffered physical damage. No one was injured and no deaths occurred. For that we have to be grateful to the Almighty and to the Fire Departments of Winona and surrounding cities and towns.
While the fire departments’ personnel did the lion’s share of the work, thanks also need to be extended to the dedicated volunteers of the local chapter of the American Red Cross who were on the spot from the very first moment and stayed on the scene to the end.
The Police Department of the city of Winona did a terrific job of assuring the safety of all. To them we give a round of applause.
Not to be forgotten are the merchants, the homeowners, the private citizens, Winona State University, the churches, and the whole Winona community who extended hands of help and arms for comfort. The material and emotional support that was given to the victims of the tragedy cannot go unappreciated.
People in the media from throughout the state did what they could to keep everyone informed. Hats off to the Fourth Estate.
The unknown soldiers are the investigators who were on the spot, whether from the police department, the FBI, the ETF, or the Fire Marshall’s office, and did a fantastic and tireless job of getting to the root of the tragedy.
There is also a special group of heroes: those who knocked on the doors of the tenants to make sure that the last one of them left their buildings unharmed. They were truly life savers. Each of them deserves a plaque of recognition. But most have modestly said that they only did what came naturally. Their humanity and their love for their fellow human beings were their guides. If these are not heroes, who are?
In sum, the whole community has come together as it hasn’t for a long time. Let’s hope that the positive spirit that was created as a result of this tragedy will continue and help build an excellent community into an even better one.