‘It’s humbling’: Community gathers to honor SouthPark fire heroes, remember the lives lost

The community gathered one week after the massive five-alarm fire in south Charlotte.
The community took time Thursday night to honor the lives lost and the heroes who responded to the SouthPark fire.
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 10:15 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - One week after the historic fire in Charlotte’s SouthPark neighborhood, new information continues to come out, as does support for the heroes who responded.

Investigators now know how it started, and many are still grappling with the fire’s aftermath.

Two people were trapped in the blaze and didn’t make it out. Another was stuck more than 200 feet above the ground before he was eventually rescued.

Others who weren’t directly caught in the fire had their vehicles and belongings destroyed.

This Thursday night, at “SouthPark After 5″ at Symphony Park, first responders who fought that fire were honored in a gathering that allowed the thousands in attendance to meet and talk about what happened.

City Councilmember Tariq Bokhari said there was talk about postponing Southpark After 5 for another week, but ultimately it was decided that it was more important to get everyone together and show support for those who answered the call.

“It’s the worst, but it’s also a time where you see the best the community has to offer,” Bokhari said to the crowd.

“It’s so healing and so important to come together as a community,” Charlotte resident Karey Tom said. “I’m so glad we have this opportunity.”

Bokhari and Mayor Vi Lyles joined roughly 50 of the brave men and women who responded to the fire on stage as they were honored by the community.

“For them to come here and be on stage, and hear all these people in the community let them know how they feel about them, you can’t buy that,” the councilman said.

A moment of silence was also held in memory of Demonte Sherrill and Reuben Holmes, the two construction workers who died in the fire. Bokhari said a memorial service will be held for Sherrill on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Covenant Presbyterian Church.

Hundreds of people signed a banner, thanking first responders, that will be given to one of the fire stations, giving them chance to put their gratitude in writing.

Through all the showings of support, Thursday night was about giving the SouthPark community a chance to give thanks to a group of heroes who never ask for it.

“It’s great, it’s humbling,” Charlotte Fire Deputy Chief Peter Skeris said. “We don’t look for it in our job, but it’s nice though to have that pat on the back when people really do appreciate what you do.”

Related: Firefighters open up about daring rescues during massive SouthPark fire