El Lago, Seabrook to create lasting memorial for hero of fire
An effort is under way to create a permanent memorial to honor Valerij Alyohin, who died of burns received when he saved dozens of people in a Feb. 26 four-alarm fire at the El Lago apartment complex where he lived.
The cities of El Lago and Seabrook on April 5 passed a joint proclamation citing the bravery and heroism of Alyohin and a resolution to create a memorial that honors his heroism.
A fundraising effort is under way to help pay for the Valerij Alyohin Friend and Hero Memorial Project.
A committee of volunteers — which includes Danny Miller and Carlisle Campbell, both NASA engineers; Cheryl Evans, an El Lago artist and educator; Rusty Cates, owner of a local coffee shop; and Dana Oliver, Val's employer at Aquamaid, among others - has decided that the Russian firebird will be the central theme of the memorial, said Tim Gregg, owner of Turn-Key Videoworks, 2437 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, who designed the project's website.
"Val was an ethnic Russian," Gregg said. "In Slavic folklore, the firebird is a magical glowing bird from a faraway land which serves as a harbinger of peril, but to its captor, it turns out also to be a blessing.
"We're getting a more complete sense of who Val was as a person so we can confidently decide what kind of memorial would honor him, and at the same time be fitting for the community," Gregg said.
"We have a number of ideas on the table, but we're all in agreement that this will be something tangible and three-dimensional."
When the pre-dawn fire broke out at the Emerald Shores apartment complex, 3802 NASA Parkway, Alyohin, 33, banged on doors to warn others before evacuating the apartment building himself.
Alyohin, who suffered burns to more than 80 percent of his body, died March 13 at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
The fire collapsed an entire structure, destroyed 36 units and left dozens of families homeless.
Alyohin's mother, Tatiana Harris, who lives in California, said she will return her son's ashes to their native Russia this summer.
For more information, visit www.friendandhero.org.
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