A fallen friend, leader and hero

Facing a fire is intimidating, says Paul Dabbs. The 64-year-old volunteer firefighter remembers the first one he was called to. But knowing that his friend and fire chief Kurt Gantner was there made it much easier...

Facing a fire is intimidating, says Paul Dabbs.

The 64-year-old volunteer firefighter remembers the first one he was called to.

But knowing that his friend and fire chief Kurt Gantner was there made it much easier, said Dabbs.

The two men, who moved with their wives into the community of Tagish at about the same time, have fought fires together for the past six years.

On Monday night, they were called to another major blaze.

It would be the last one they fought together.

Early Tuesday morning, the fire was finally doused after the house had been reduced to ashes.

After some sleep, Gantner took some family members to the airport and started heading to his meeting with the fire marshal, said Dabbs.

He never made it.

The fire department’s modified pickup sped off the road and into the brush only one kilometre from the fire hall. Gantner, 49, was the only one in the vehicle.

Autopsy results are expected later today, the territory’s corner said.

But knowing the exact cause of his death doesn’t really matter, said Dabbs.

Figuring out how to continue after the loss of such an integral part of the community is going to be hard.

“We had great faith in him, great confidence in him and it made a huge difference to us,” said Dabbs. “In a small community, we just don’t have that many people who could do the things he was able to do. So, to fill the void that he’s going to leave, in that sense, it’s going to be very difficult.”

“Kurt was a true community hero,” Yukon fire marshal Dennis Berry said in a release Wednesday.

But Gantner meant more to the community than just the services he provided, said Dabbs.

The two men knew and worked with each other in many different ways.

Not only were they personal friends and fellow firefighters, they also served on the town’s advisory board together.

Dabbs and his wife Judy also worked with Gantner and his wife Jutta for the volunteer emergency services in the community.

The Gantners came as a team, said Dabbs.

“When we talk here, we rarely say ‘Kurt’ or ‘Jutta,’ we almost always say ‘Kurt and Jutta,’” he said.

They were extraordinarily community minded, Dabbs added.

While Gantner served as a firefighter for many years in Germany, the couple also owned their own business there.

When they came to the Yukon, they established the Tagish Store Cafe Motel and RV park.

It is an obvious community hub – and was from the moment the couple opened its doors, said Dabbs.

When he and Judy were building their home and didn’t have heat or water yet, Dabbs would walk over for lunch everyday.

It was the beginning of their friendship, he said.

“We simply looked forward to going to see him,” said Dabbs.

A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, August 30 at 1 p.m. at the Tagish fire hall.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

No vacancy: Whitehorse family spends five months seeking housing

‘I didn’t think it would be this hard’

Bedbug situation in Whitehorse building becoming intolerable, resident says

Gabriel Smarch said he’s been dealing with bedbugs since he moved into his apartment 15 years ago

Yukon government transfers responsibility for Native Language Centre to CYFN

‘At the end of the day the importance is that First Nations have control of the language’

New operator applies for licence at shuttered Whitehorse daycare

Application has listed a proposed program start date of Feb. 1.

The week in Yukon mining

Goldcorp re-submits Coffee plans, Mount Nansen sale looms, Kudz Ze Kayah comments open

Ice, ice, baby: scaling a frozen Yukon waterfall

‘There’s a really transformative affect with adventure’

Yukon history is picture post card perfect

The most interesting gift I received at Christmas this year was the… Continue reading

Contentious Whitehorse quarry proposal raises city hackles

‘We’ve had concerns from the get-go on this one’

Whitehorse time machine

Yukon’s capital added 10,000 people over the last three decades, no YESAB application needed

How to make sure your car starts in the cold

It’s about more than just making sure your plug works

Whitehorse fuel delivery company fined $1,100 for Rancheria crash

The Crown stayed two other charges against the company related to the Aug. 7, 2017, crash

Most Read