The community is stepping in to take care of the Muskogee firefighters who worked for hours to put out a huge fire at the Georgia Pacific paper mill on Monday night. 

Fire officials said a forklift caught on fire, and then exploded, requiring a lot of manpower from their crews. Fortunately, local restaurants are helping feed firefighters to keep their strength up. 

Rib Crib in Muskogee is feeding the fire department three full days this week. The manager said they’re paying it forward after the community helped them when they dealt with a fire of their own. 

“Step up for us and we step up for everybody else,” said Somer Perkins with Rib Crib. 

That’s why there was no hesitation when she and her employees heard about the explosion at Georgia Pacific. 

“I think of it like, what if that was us out there doing this, trying to fight them fires?” said manager Mariah Bridges. “I’m sure they were all hungry.”

But firefighters didn’t stay hungry long; Rib Crib fed the exhausted crews and will continue to feed them through Thursday.

“We’re feeding them in shifts right now to make sure everybody out there got food,” said Bridges. 

Fire Chief Mike O’Dell said it was much needed after he called in every firefighter Muskogee has to offer to battle the blaze.

“Gosh, it’s been more than 10 years since we’ve done that,” he said. “So, it doesn’t happen very often.”

He said the crews’ energy was fully depleted after a long night of working in the heat. 

“At that point, I was wanting to get them out of there and get them some rest,” said Chief O’Dell. “They didn’t have much left in ‘em. “

The chief said acts of kindness, like the one from Rib Crib, will keep his crews up and working tonight, tomorrow, and the rest of this week. 

“It’s satisfying to know we’re valued by the community,” said Chief O’Dell. 

The chief said another local restaurant, the Pizza Inn, has offered to continue feeding fire crews after Rib Crib’s work is done.