Kansas Fire Chief's Kindness Lauded

When 55-year-old Ed King was killed in an accident Wednesday on his way to fight a fire in Reno County, he was doing what he loved.

It wasn't simply fighting fires. It was doing something to help others.

He did a lot of that -- helping other people -- as the fire chief of the volunteer Reno County Fire District No. 7 in Turon. He was also a friend who helped others fix their car or move, said Vickie Frank, whose husband, Assistant Fire Chief Tom Frank, was involved in the same accident.

She said her husband and Mr. King were best friends.

Mr. King "was just a wonderful, caring person that did a lot for everybody and anybody," Vickie Frank said. "He's one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet."

Mr. King died when the fire truck he was driving collided head-on with another fire truck being driven by Tom Frank.

The accident happened at about 4 p.m., a half-mile south of Parallel Road on Huntsville Road, about five miles east of Turon.

Mr. King and Frank, 57, were responding to a report of a controlled burn that had gotten out of hand, and the smoke from the fire had passed over the roadway, said Reno County sheriff's Deputy Jon Culley, who is investigating the incident.

The dirt road on which the men were driving is only about 20 feet wide. Frank was driving south and Mr. King north, Culley said.

"There was a lack of vision (due to the smoke) on both drivers' part," Culley said.

Mr. King, driving a truck with a 250-gallon plastic water tank on the bed, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Frank was not injured. He was driving a water supply tanker truck, Culley said.

Vickie Frank said Mr. King had been a volunteer firefighter for more than 20 years. He owned King's Body Shop in Turon, which is about 25 miles southwest of Hutchinson.

Debbie Montford, a friend of Mr. King's, described him as "friendly, hard-working and helpful." She said he often did household jobs for people in town, such as helping an elderly couple put in a new faucet.

His lengthy volunteer service with the Fire Department spoke volumes about the kind of man Mr. King was, Montford said.

"Not everyone would want to volunteer to put themselves in harm's way," she said.

Vickie Frank said she, her husband and Mr. King would meet almost every Monday through Saturday at the Dairy Bar, a restaurant in Turon owned by Mr. King's sister. On Sundays, Mr. King would often go to the Franks' home.

"We did a lot with him, talked with him all the time," she said. "He was part of the family. We were part of his, he was part of ours."

Mr. King was born March 9, 1950, and had lived in Turon for the past 31 years.

He is survived by stepsons Roger and Ronald Newby; daughter Barbie Bontrager; brothers Stanley and Delbert King; sisters Clara Belle Christenson, Norma Jean Carson and Colleen Oller; and three grandchildren.

The funeral for Mr. King is set for 11 a.m. Monday at the Turon Community Center. Visitation is scheduled for 1-8 p.m. Sunday at Larrison Funeral Home in Turon.

Distributed by the Associated Press

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