News reports identify two firefighters killed during a fire in a coal bin in Britton, South Dakota yesterday morning as 22 year old William Waldner and 20 year old Jacob Waldner from Sunset Colony. The Waldners were cousins. There is also report that the firefighter father of one of the cousins was injured.
The fire call came in when caller noticed smoke coming from one of the coal bins at the colony-starting around 0800 hours. The bins, inside the building and hold coal to feed the furnace for a boiler.
Several volunteer firefighters fought the fire, and it was thought the fire had been extinguished.
At 0915 hours the colony Firefighters noticed smoke again, coming from an opening on top of the building.
The two young Firefighters climbed to the top of the 75-foot structure to put out what was still burning. The men were attempting to knock down the fire through the top of the opening onto the coal bin when the explosion occurred. The blast threw both Firefighters from the roof onto the ground.
Debris from the roof landed on top of one of the Firefighters and the other was pinned beneath a concrete wall that had collapsed. The west wall of the building crashed through to the coal furnace, crushing it. The father of one of the Firefighters, was also is a Volunteer Firefighter himself, was inside a lower level of the building during the blast. He emerged from the building dazed, covered in debris and injured.
Firefighters had to use one of the trucks on scene to remove the roof and cement off of the men and one of the colony fire apparatus was damaged in the blast.
Several departments responded to the blast, including the North Marshall Fire Department, the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office and, the Sunset Colony Firefighters. As we pointed out last night, in that area-and several “plains” area rural communities in North America, “colonies” of Hutterite people (similar in some respects to the Amish) maintain their own volunteer fire companies. This is one such community.
From the AP:
Two volunteer firefighters died and one was injured after an explosion Thursday morning northwest of Britton.
Marshall County Sheriff Dale Elsen tells the Aberdeen American News that a 20-year-old man and a 21-year-old man had been on top of a structure putting out a fire when an explosion blew off the top and south wall of the building, killing the men.
Elsen said the man injured was the father of one of the men who died. The man was taken to Marshall County Health Care Center.
Elsen said several volunteer firefighters had fought the blaze and thought it was extinguished when the explosion occurred. The 911 call came in at 9:51 a.m.