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Firefighters save military flag from burning building

Community members also rally around veteran tenant.
(Jeff Tenney)
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 8:03 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Firefighters put their lives on the line every day.

While we know the tremendous job they do to protect the community, sometimes they go above and beyond to save priceless items that would have been lost.

That’s what happened Monday in Bangor.

“I had the clothes I was wearing, and I had my phone in my pocket,” said Jonathan Tenney.

A massive fire Monday destroyed two apartment buildings including Jonathan’s home of two years.

“Lego’s apparently are fireproof,” said his dad, Jeff Tenney, about Jonathan’s Lego collection scattered throughout the ashes in his apartment on Wednesday.

“Kind of embarrassing story, but a stuffed rabbit that I’ve had since three years old, I thought that might have been gone. He’s fine,” said Jonathan about his childhood stuffed animal, Ben.

Wednesday was the first time Jonathan had been back in the apartment since the fire. He was there with his dad looking for things they could salvage. Thankfully, members of the local fire department already did some of the work for them.

“The two things I wanted to keep when he passed were his flag and his dog tags,” Jonathan said about his late grandfather, Herbert Tenney, who was well known in the community as the owner of Hampden Hardware for more than 40 years. He was also a veteran.

During the fire, Hermon Fire Captain Mike Simmons was looking into the window of Jonathan’s apartment to see how far the fire had progressed when he said he noticed something in the room.

“He noticed the flag inside the building and asked for permission to enter the building,” said Bangor Fire Assistant Chief Dennis Nadeau.

“I asked his permission to break the rest of the glass out of the window and if I could enter the building and retrieve that flag and stuff, and he gave me permission and went in there with the assistance of Lieutenant Oulette and Vicky, and we brought the flag down.”

It was Jonathan’s grandfather’s military flag and a picture of the

“They went in and rescued the flag and put it aside for us and that means a lot to me because they understood.”

Levi Hall, a veteran and another tenant in the building, was also able to find his military flag after the fire was over. He’s feeling support from the community with donations pouring into a gofundme his best friend started for him.

“The outpouring of support that has been distributed to that by numerous people has been amazing, and him being the guy that he is, he’s already decided to go above and beyond what he needs to get reestablished. He’s going to give back.”

These are just a few of the stories that have been shared from this tragic fire of kindness among members of our community helping each other.

“I am forever in the debt of firefighters that took that extra time to go and rescue that flag. That means more to me than I think they’ll ever know.”

June 10th at noon, the American Legion is taking care of cleaning the flag and presenting it back to Jonathan.

That will be ten years to the day the flag was folded.

The Hermon Fire Department has also been invited to the ceremony.

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