Ind. (AP) — The leader of a northern Indiana town's volunteer fire
department said it is experiencing grief and disbelief after its assistant
chief was killed at a business blaze this week.
Many people have
left flowers and mementoes outside the New Carlisle fire station since
41-year-old Jamie Middlebrook died Tuesday night when a roof collapsed on
the backbone of our department," New Carlisle Fire Chief Joshua Schweizer
Middlebrook will be held at Bethel College's auditorium in Mishawaka,
beginning with visitation on Sunday and his funeral on Monday. A funeral
procession to New Carlisle Cemetery will follow, with Middlebrook's casket
to be carried by one of the department's fire engines.
with other firefighters working to set up a hose inside K-Fex Inc., a
trucking and excavating company, when the roof collapse happened. Fellow
firefighter Matt O'Donnell was treated for a broken ankle and other
Schweizer said he
felt helpless once he realized that Middlebrook hadn't made it out of the
"It was an
absolute lost feeling," he said. "We still have a job to do, but my friend
is in there, but we have nothing further that I can do."
Coroner John Sullivan, who has been with the LaPorte Fire Department for
25 years, said fighting a fire from inside a burning building can turn
deadly at any moment.
structure firefighting is extremely hazardous, and the danger of collapse
is always looming," he told the South Bend Tribune. "When you walk into
the building, there's no guarantee you're going to walk out."
State and federal
investigators have been working to determine what caused the fire at the
business about 15 miles west of South Bend.