Maine fire chief dies after suffering medical episode while attending firefighter’s funeral

Berwick Fire Chief Berwick( Maine) Fire Capt. Joel Barnes, left, and Oxford( Maine) Fire Chief Gary Sacco. Sacco was enunciated dead after attending Barnes’ funeral. ( Erin Thomas via AP/ Facebook, File)

A Maine fire chief died Sunday after suffering a medical occurrence while were represented at the burial of a firefighter who was killed duelling a fire earlier this month, the state’s governor said.

The Portland Fire Department told Fox 23 it responded to a parking garage outside the downtown Cross Insurance Arena approximately one hour before the scheduled commencing from the funeral service for Berwick Fire Capt. Joel Barnes. Oxford Fire Chief Gary Sacco was pronounced dead at Maine Medical Center. Further details were not immediately available.

Sacco was called Oxford fire chief in June 2017. He previously retired as director in nearby New Gloucester in 2015 after 12 years in that job.

“Our centers, already cracked by the loss of Captain Joel Barnes, likewise mourn the loss of Oxford Fire Chief Gary Sacco. In a testament to his own attribute, Chief Sacco lost his life while honoring that of his descend friend, fellow firefighter Captain Barnes, ” Maine Gov. Janet Mills said in the following statement. “I join with people across Maine in offering my thoughts and devotions to Chief Sacco’s family and friends, the Oxford Fire Department, and all of Maine’s first responders. The State of Maine “ve been given” two of its best to the Heavens.”


Barnes, 32, was injured and later died after he shielded a colleague from a March 1 four-alarm fire at an apartment building in Berwick. He and the other firefighter encountered a wall of flares on the third storey and had to be rescued. Five firefighters were injured that day, and Barnes died at a infirmary in New Hampshire.

Berwick Fire Chief Dennis Plante said Barnes had constructed “the ultimate sacrifice” and called him “my hero.”

Captain Berwick Fire Capt. Joel Barnes drawing a ladder on the scene of a June 2017 structure fire in Somersworth N.H.( Erin Thomas via AP, File)

Barnes grew the first Maine firefighter to die while battling a ardor in practically 40 times. Stephen McCausland of the Maine Department of Public security told The Associated Press that the last time it happened was in 1980 when Portland Firefighter Joseph Cavallaro Jr. died of burns and asphyxiation while fighting a three-alarm fire at the Phoenix Nightclub.

The day started with a private Mass for Barnes in Old Orchard, where he grew up. Then a procession escorted Barnes’ body up I-9 5 to South Portland, where the coffin was placed in a fire truck.

From there, the procession headed across the Casco Bay Bridge where attack boats honoured Barnes en route to the arena, one of the few venues in the state large enough to host such a gathering.

Barnes’ uncle, also identified Joel, flourished teary as he described a nephew who grew up dedicated to serve the public as a firefighter. He recollected how an elderly neighbor once demonstrated a plastic firefighter hat to then-toddler Joel, who soon became “obsessed” with studying attack science volumes and devising himself for a vocation that took him from Maine, to Massachusetts, to South Carolina and back to their own families in Maine.


“Without hesitation, he granted their own lives to save the living standards of another firefighter, ” Barnes said. “And he did it in the most selfless, intrepid route possible.”

Mills lowered flags to half-staff to honor Barnes. She said his life and service epitomized “unfaltering courage, selflessness and cherish for his fellow man.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report .

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