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Local first responders honor fallen in stair climb on 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 attacks

Emergency responders complete five laps on Sky Steps at Fort Lewis College
Firefighters and law enforcement make their way down and up the Sky Steps on Saturday morning during the annual stair climbing event in honor of the 412 emergency workers who died in the Sept. 11 attacks. Each participant climbed the stairs five times to simulate climbing the World Trade Center’s 110 flights of stairs. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

On the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, members of almost every emergency response group in La Plata County participated in the annual stair climb at Fort Lewis College.

This is the fifth year local first responders gathered at FLC’s Sky Steps to honor the 343 firefighters, 60 police officers, eight EMTs and thousands of civilians who died in the attacks, said Breaux Burns, fire captain with Durango Fire Protection District.

Each participant climbed the stairs five times to simulate climbing the World Trade Center’s 110 flights of stairs. Members of not just local fire and law enforcement departments, but other first responders, including wildland crews and Purgatory’s Ski Patrol, participated in the climb.

“We don’t plan on stopping,” he said. “It’s all in remembrance of that day. It’s not about us, it’s about them, really. We do this as a team, we coach each other up the stairs to get up it together because we all know it’s horrible. There’s nothing fun about this, but it’s not about fun, it’s about sacrifice, really.”

John Munn, a nurse with Flight For Life, said he and many others participated in the climb to commemorate those who died in the attacks.

Firefighters, law enforcement, family members and friends make their way down and up the Sky Steps on Saturday morning during the annual stair climbing event at Fort Lewis College in honor of the 412 emergency workers who died in the Sept. 11 attacks. Each participant climbed the stairs five times to simulate climbing the World Trade Center’s 110 flights of stairs. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

“I think a lot of people would say it’s a great way to honor the ultimate sacrifice and the effort it took to climb the buildings,” he said. “This is really just a small part of suffering that we did just to honor the huge amount of effort that was put out just to try to get to somebody.”

“It’s a day of reflection,” Burns said.

The annual stair climbing event at Fort Lewis College started and finished at the top of the Sky Steps at FLC on Saturday. The climb was in honor of the 412 emergency workers who died in the Sept. 11 attacks. Each participant climbed the stairs five times to simulate climbing the World Trade Center’s 110 flights of stairs. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

He said in addition to those who died in the attacks, it is important to recognize those who are still dying as a result of the attacks.

“Countless are still dying today from cancer,” he said. “There’s still death happening from cancer from people working on the pile to running from being in the city.”

ngonzales@durangoherald.com

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