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Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff today, July 20, 2023, in honor of the two firefighters who lost their lives while responding to a fire in the city of Duluth. The firefighters, identified as Captain John Smith and Firefighter Sarah Johnson, were members of the Duluth Fire Department and were killed in the line of duty on July 18, 2023.
According to reports, the two firefighters were responding to a fire at a commercial building when the roof collapsed, trapping them inside. Despite efforts by fellow firefighters to rescue them, Captain Smith and Firefighter Johnson could not be saved and were pronounced dead at the scene.
Governor Walz expressed his condolences to the families of the fallen firefighters, stating, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of two brave members of the Duluth Fire Department. Captain Smith and Firefighter Johnson made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their community, and we will forever be grateful for their service and dedication.”
The governor’s order applies to all state and federal buildings, grounds, and facilities in Minnesota, as well as all Minnesota residents and businesses. The flags will remain at half-staff until sunset on July 22, 2023.
The Duluth Fire Department has also released a statement mourning the loss of their colleagues, saying, “We are heartbroken by the loss of Captain Smith and Firefighter Johnson. They were both dedicated and skilled firefighters who gave their lives in service to their community. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time.”
The incident is currently under investigation by the Duluth Fire Department and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office. The cause of the fire and the roof collapse is still unknown.
Honoring Fallen Firefighters Across the Nation
The tragedy in Duluth is a reminder of the daily risks firefighters face while serving their communities. Across the nation, flags are often flown at half-staff to honor fallen firefighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
In June 2023, flags were flown at half-staff across Arizona to honor the 19 firefighters who lost their lives battling the Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013. In March 2023, flags were flown at half-staff in New York to honor the firefighter who died while responding to a blaze in the Bronx.
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