W.Va. Firefighter Hurt in 2007 Blast Dies

May 15--Volunteer firefighter and Ghent explosion survivor Donnie Caldwell died Thursday. He was 74. Jim Belcher, chief of the Ghent Volunteer Fire Department, remembered his friend and the many years he worked with him. "Don was a good friend of...


May 15--Volunteer firefighter and Ghent explosion survivor Donnie Caldwell died Thursday. He was 74. Jim Belcher, chief of the Ghent Volunteer Fire Department, remembered his friend and the many years he worked with him. "Don was a good friend of mine and I miss him," Belcher said. "He was always willing to help you when you needed it, and just a good person overall." The January 2007 propane explosion at the Little General Store in Ghent killed four people and injured six, including Caldwell. Caldwell was 71 years old at the time of the explosion and Belcher said he never quite recovered. "He was in the hospital for a good period of time and he had suffered significant injuries from the explosion," Belcher said. "He just didn't recover from those injuries." Belcher said Caldwell's health prevented him from returning to the fire department, but he would still see him occasionally. "He would stop by sometimes and see us," he said. "I could tell his health wasn't the best, but the news was a shock for all of us to hear. This is a loss for the fire department and a loss for the community." Caldwell served as a medic in the U.S. Army and was a fireman and ambulance driver with the Ghent VFD. Survivors include four children, 11 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Service will be 1 p.m. Monday at Blue Ridge Funeral Home in Beckley. Visitation will be 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday.