Monday, April 21, 2014
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U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield spoke to first responders, local officials, and reporters Monday morning at the Knifley Fire Dept. Whitfield commended the community for coming together in the aftermath of a crisis after Thursday morning's pipeline explosion.

By Wes Feese

U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-1st District) was in Knifley Monday morning to assess the damage of Thursday morning’s pipeline explosion and then spoke briefly at the Knifley Firehouse. 

“This is my first time up here since the explosion,” Whitfield told a group of about 40 first responders, elected officials, Columbia Gulf representatives, media members and Knifley residents.  “The community has been working cooperatively and that’s what it takes to get through these kinds of tragedies—we were really fortunate that no one was killed.”

Whitfield commended all first responders for their dedicated service, singling out the Knifley Fire Dept. and presenting Chief C.R. Drake with an American flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol Building.

“These volunteer fire departments are vitally important to our community as we learned the other night,” Whitfield said.  “I always think about these first responders, when they arrive on the scene, they never know what to expect.”

A Columbia Gulf representative presented Drake with a check to help cover immediate expenses for the Knifley Fire Dept., and pledged that an additional $25,000 would be forthcoming.

Cathy Tucker—a Knifley resident whose home was destroyed during the explosion, also spoke, and she was surprisingly cheery, even towards the folks from Columbia Gulf.

“This is just something that happened; it couldn’t be helped by anyone,” Tucker, surrounded by members of the media, said to Whitfield.  “Knifley is my home and it will continue to be my home.  Unless you come from a community like Knifley you can’t understand what I’m saying.  Everybody’s here for everyone.”

Tucker thanked all local fire departments for their quick response to the scene Thursday, and praised Columbia Gulf for their accommodations during the explosion’s aftermath.  A representative from the company spoke briefly.

“We’re continuing to investigate,” the rep said.  “This is unacceptable and we’re going to continue to work hard and see what happened here.” 

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