A 28-year member of the Westover Area Volunteer Fire Company, Clearfield County, Westover, Pa., Station No. 45 took ill at the scene of a structure fire Saturday morning and died at a local hospital from what appears to be cardiac arrest.
Lt. Roy E. Westover Jr., 41, was on a 3-inch line, coupled down to 2.5-inch, as part of a exterior attack team on a structure fire that was reported at about 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, according to Josh Quigley, Director of Emergency Management for Clearfield County, Pa. Quigley is serving as the public information officer for the event.
When reached by telephone Saturday night, Quigley said WAVFC Fire Chief Santo Adamo arrived on the scene of the fire and determined that the abandoned single-family home was too far involved for an interior attack and ordered a defensive fire fight. Lt. Westover was part of a team staffing a nozzle mounting the exterior attack, according to Quigley.
"He started to feel ill and went to talk to his engineer on the truck," Quigley said. An advance life support team was on the scene of the fire, as a normal course of operating practice, and gave Lt. Westover immediate care at the scene before transporting him.
The lieutenant was transported to Miners Medical Center in Hastings, Pa., about 20 minutes from the fire scene, Quigley said. At the hospital, he went into cardiac arrest, according to Quigley. The underlying event that triggered the arrest is not immediately known, he said, noting the Cambria County Coroner's Office is doing an investigation into the cause of death.
When reached at his home Saturday night, Chief Adamo declined to elaborate on the event, but did read a prepared statement, saying his department regretted to announce the line of duty death of Westover, who had served the department for 28 years, and the past year as lieutenant.
Lt. Westover, a widower who lost his wife three years ago, is survived by three sons, Seth, 16, Jordan, 15, and Collin, 10. His two oldest boys are members of the department serving as Junior Members, according to P.I.O. Quigley.
The cause of the fire in the vacant home is under investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal's Office, said Quigley. It's customary for the fire marshal's office to be called in when the chief is unable to determine the cause of the fire and, where this particular fire involved a line of duty death, it's particularly important to investigate the cause of the blaze.
Lt. Westover is survived by his parents, brothers and sisters. There are at least six Westover names appearing on the WAVFC roster, including the deputy chief and a captain, according to the department's web site. Outside of Lt. Westover's two sons, Quigley said he could not confirm if any of the members are related to the fallen firefighter.
According to the web site, the Westover Area Volunteer Fire Company was organized in 1980 which would make Lt. Westover nearly a charter member. The department's first truck was a 1959 Ford and for several years, the department used a garage on Railroad Street as its fire station. Since then, the department has built a new station, expanded it and purchased several new apparatus. It currently has 20 active members and six junior members.
Funeral home visitation will be held at Dimmick's Funeral Home, 91 Rose Street, Irvona, Pa., from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27. A Firefighter's Memorial Service will be held at 8 p.m. immediately following the visitation. Attending firefighters are asked to arrive at Elderberry Park, in Irvona no later than 7:30 p.m.
A viewing will also be held on Wed., October 28, at the Westover Baptist Church, 58 East Bridge St., Westover, Pa., 10:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Funeral service will begin at 1:00 p.m. with burial in the church cemetery.
Firefighters and apparatus attending the service on Wednesday are asked to arrive at the intersection of Water Street and East Bridge Street in Westover no later than 12:00 p.m.