A veteran New York City firefighter with Rescue 3, Blackwell is among the hundreds of missing rescuers who responded to the World Trade Center attack Sept. 11.
While the firefighter made his home in Putnam Lake, he kept ties to Connecticut, where he grew up in New Fairfield. Since the early 1990s, he worked part time as a paramedic with Danbury Ambulance, earning the respect of his colleagues.

"He's like our local hero. For him to work in that rescue company and then come here, he brought a lot of knowledge and experience to us in this area," said Matthew Cassavechia, director of operations at Danbury Ambulance.

He started as a volunteer fireman at the age of 16, said his mother, Frances Blackwell Allan, who lives in Danbury. He worked as a fireman for more than 20 years and was recognized with the Thomas Kenney Award for Courage and the New York Medal of Valor.

Through his paramedic work with Danbury Ambulance, he was known at the Ridgefield Fire Department, where he visited about a week before the attacks and was attempting to set up some training classes for the firefighters. His specialty, Ridgefield Fire Chief Louis Yarrish said, was building collapses and trench rescues. Yarrish described Blackwell as a dedicated family man who loved his wife, three children and work.

"He loved his job and helping people," Yarrish said. "That's Chris, he'd risk his life to save someone else's."

Cassavechia said he holds out hope that Blackwell can be found in "one of those voids or was able to seek shelter," he said. "Our feeling among everyone in this area is that there may be a chance."

-- The Hartford Courant