Wooden statue honors WTC firefighters

February 25, 2002 12:00 am
The statue will be featured in the St. Patricks Day parade in New York. The creation came from the heart, Nyal Thomas of Florence said Monday. Thomas and co-creator Rick Boswell are accepting donations to help them get to New York City by March 11. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).
The statue will be featured in the St. Patricks Day parade in New York. The creation came from the heart, Nyal Thomas of Florence said Monday. Thomas and co-creator Rick Boswell are accepting donations to help them get to New York City by March 11. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).

By JAYSON JACOBY

Of the Baker City Herald

From their homes where you can hear Pacific waves rumble, Nyal Thomas Jr. and Rick Boswell are crossing the continent with their tribute to the firefighters who died Sept. 11 on the Atlantic shore.

All 3,000 pounds of it.

Thomas and Boswell are wood carvers from Florence.

Over the past four months the pair has sawed away at a massive chunk of Sitka spruce felled in the Coast Range.

What their tools revealed is Out of the Rubble, a carving depicting the legendary scene of New York City firefighters raising the American flag from the debris of the World Trade Center.

At the pieces base are silver plaques on which are engraved the names of the 343 firefighters who died there.

Thomas and Boswell left home Saturday afternoon. They spent Sunday night in a Baker City motel and visited the Baker City Fire Department Monday morning.

Thomas said the pair is raising money along the way for travel expenses.

Thomas said he was on the road Sept. 11 when he learned of the tragedies in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

The terrorist attacks touched his heart in two ways.

For one, Thomas is a former fire chief in Mendocino County, Calif., and he still works as a volunteer firefighter in Florence.

For another, his father was a Marine who witnessed Americas other legendary flag-raising, on Iwo Jima during World War II.

Those two things did it for me, Thomas said, convincing him to use his wood-shaping skills to create a memorial to the fallen firefighters.

Davison Mill of Mapleton donated the spruce log, which Thomas said weighed 8,080 pounds before he and Boswell began carving.

Although Thomas said he is accustomed to working on such a large scale (hes carved 20-foot totem poles), he said Out of the Rubble is definitely the most complex piece Ive ever done.

He said the carving is worth an estimated $15,000.

The pairs business is Lakeshore Carvings. The address is 83530 Highway 101 South, Florence, OR 97439, and the phone number is 541/997-9295.

The carvers can also be reached via e-mail at: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it