Two South Dakota Firefighters Killed in Blast During Blaze

The Sunset Colony firefighters -- cousins -- were on top of a structure when the blast blew off the roof.
Firehouse.com News

Posted: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 06:54pm
Updated: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 12:32pm
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Two Sunset Colony volunteer firefighters were killed and another was injured when an explosion occurred as they fought a fire in a large coal bin Thursday morning, according to KSFY-TV.

Firefighter Jacob Waldner, 20, and Firefighter William Waldner, 22, were on top of a structure dousing the flames in the bin below when the blast blew off the roof and the south wall of the building.

Firefighter Jack Waldner was injured in the blast and was transported to Marshall County Health Care Center.

Jacob and William are cousins while Jack is the father of one of the young men.

"I witnessed it with my own eyes, it happened just like it does in the movies," Sunset Fire Chief Danny Stahl told the news station. "I mean the bin virtually came apart on top and the two victims just flew."

Marshall County Sheriff Dale Elsen told The Aberdeen American News that the blast threw the firefighters 75 feet down to the ground.

Debris from the roof landed on top of one of the men while the other was pinned beneath the concrete wall that collapsed.

Jack was inside a lower level of the building during the blast and exited the structure bruised and covered in debris.

"It's a sad day out there for us," Elsen told the newspaper.

Crews responded to the fire at approximately 9:51 a.m. in the Hutterite colony about seven miles northwest of Britton.

Firefighters believed the blaze had been extinguished when the blast occurred.

The South Dakota Fire Marshall is investigating the cause fire and explosion.

Stahl says the two fallen firefighters were close to his heart.

"These boys, I recruited them," he said. "I was involved in all their training and they were like son to me. I helped with them recover for both of them and it's a picture I'll never get out of my mind."

Firehouse.com will provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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