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Photo courtesy Heather Alwine Eracleous
Fort Wayne firefighters shovel a 94-year-old man's driveway on Woodrow Avenue, all without the man's asking and before he woke up Wednesday.

Local firefighters donate time and help out neighbor

As Heather Alwine Eracleous looked out her window Wednesday morning, she spotted a fire truck parked along the side of the street.

She looked across Woodrow Avenue on the city's north side and started to worry that her 94-year-old neighbor might have grabbed a shovel and tried to dig himself a path to the road.

"My first thought was 'Oh, jeeze, Mr. Slack fell while he was trying to plow; … we really should have gone out before he tried to do that,' " she said.

But tromping through the 9 inches of wet, heavy snow were several Fort Wayne firefighters, headed toward her neighbor's front door.

"I saw them knock on the door and wait for a minute. Then they just walked back to the fire truck," she said. "I thought that was sort of strange that they weren't in a hurry."

A few seconds later, several firefighters from Station 10 grabbed shovels off the truck and went to work, clearing the driveway.

Ten minutes later, they jumped back on the truck and were gone without a word, Eracleous said.

"They knew he was this wonderfully stubborn man who doesn't feel that he needs any extra attention," she said.

"As thick and heavy as this snow was, it could have been really bad, but they took the time to help.

"They didn't expect him to thank them or anything – they just wanted to help."

Slack's daughter, Maggie, said she spoke to her father late Wednesday morning to tell him not to go out with a snow blower to try to clear his driveway.

"He told me when he woke up it was all clear," Maggie Slack said. "He sleeps in late, so it all happened before he was even awake."

Slack asked that her father's first name not be included in this story.

After the firefighters left, Eracleous sent an email to Fire Chief Amy Biggs.

"She couldn't believe the act of kindness that these men performed," Biggs said, referring to the letter Eracleous sent.

Biggs forwarded Eracleous' comments to the fire department's spokeswoman who posted the story on the department's Facebook site.

By 8 p.m. Wednesday, the story had more than 18,000 "likes" and was shared more than 5,400 times.

Biggs said she called Russ McCurdy, the station's captain, and complimented him on the decision to take the time to help a neighbor.

"It made me really proud, especially since nobody asked him to do that. It just comes with being part of the neighborhood," Biggs said. "Neighbors helping neighbors."

jcrothers@jg.net

Photo gallery

  • For more photos from the Tuesday-Wednesday storm, please click here.

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