POSTED: Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 4:30pm
UPDATED: Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 4:44pm
(CNN) — The men, all volunteers, who rushed into a burning fertilizer plant in Texas before it exploded last week displayed a courage beyond words, President Barack Obama said at a memorial event in their honor Thursday.
"To the families, and neighbors, grappling with unbearable loss, we are here to say you are not alone," Obama said. "You are not forgotten. We may not live here in Texas, but we're neighbors too."
Fourteen people perished in last week's explosion, 12 of which were first responders. Like most small towns in Texas, the brigade was formed entirely of volunteers.
While national attention on the disaster was diverted by events surrounding the bomb attacks in Boston, Obama said the people of West, Texas, were not forgotten.
"Know this: while the eyes of the world may have been fixed on places far away, our hearts have also been here," he said.
Before arriving at the event, Obama surveyed the damage caused by the blast from his helicopter, which circled the enormous crater where the fertilizer plant once stood.
After his speech, Obama was slated to meet privately with family members of the firefighters who were killed.
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