SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A longtime volunteer firefighter was killed when a
roof collapsed as he and others battled a blaze at an Indiana trucking
business, trapping him inside, authorities said Wednesday.
assistant fire chief Jamie Middlebrook, a 41-year-old volunteer, was
helping to set up a hose Tuesday night inside K-Fex Excavating and
Trucking near the 2,000-person town of New Carlisle, about 15 miles west
of South Bend, LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan said.
destroyed the metal barn-like structure, with flames burning through the
roof. It took firefighters several hours to extinguish the blaze.
firefighter was taken to a Michigan City, Indiana, hospital with a broken
ankle, smoke inhalation and minor burns, but the injuries were not
life-threatening, LaPorte County Sheriff Mike Mollenhauer said.
body was recovered about 50 feet into the building, around three hours
after the roof collapsed, Sullivan said.
"A large section
of the roof came down on Jamie and he could not be rescued," Sullivan told
The Associated Press.
father, Robert Middlebrook, also is a volunteer firefighter with the New
Carlisle department and was at the scene when his son was trapped,
numerous large trucks and other heavy equipment were inside the building
and that oil and fuel might have also helped increase the fire's
stood at attention as Middlebrook's body was removed from the rubble, and
he was later honored with a large American flag hanging from atop a ladder
truck outside the New Carlisle fire station.
volunteers," Mollenhauer said. "Talk about putting your life on the line.
That's the way those guys are. They're a brotherhood. They do it for the
Gov. Mike Pence
issued a statement saying Middlebrook died protecting others.
the loss of a true Hoosier hero," Pence said. "On behalf of the state, the
first lady and I extend our condolences to his family and friends and hold
them in prayer during this difficult time."