Kentucky Fire Chief Killed in Crash

A Kentucky fire chief was killed in a motor vehicle accident while driving to a fire call Sunday evening.

Chief Henry James Combs, age 46, served the Watts Volunteer Fire Department in Breathitt County for four years, and was also a member of the Jackson and Vancleve fire departments.

Jackson Fire Chief Roger Friley said Combs was responding to the Watts fire station in his privately owned vehicle when he lost control on a curve and slid sideways into a ditch. The vehicle flipped over and Combs died of asphyxiation, Friley said.

Combs was taken to Kentucky River Medical Center in Jackson, where he was pronounced dead.

"He has done a lot of good for a better community," the chief said. "He was just an outstanding person."

Combs is survived by his wife, 13-year-old daughter, and eight-year-old twin boys.

The Watts VFD has about 15 members and serves a rural community. This was the first firefighter line of duty death not only in the Watts fire department, but in the history of the county, said Jackson Fire Department Communications Officer Stephen Bowling.

Combs took over the Watts VFD after his father, the previous chief, died in an auto accident, Bowling said. "He got the department federal funding and made a big difference," Bowling said. The funding included forestry grants and two FIRE Act grants.

Combs was also an associate pastor at his church and a Naval officer, Bowling said. "They don't make men better than him," Bowling said. "He was a selfless servant of the community. No matter what type of call it was, he was there."

Visitation will be held Thursday, September 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Watts Funeral Home in Jackson. The funeral will take place Friday at 11 a.m. at Providence Pentecostal Church, three miles south of Jackson on Highway 15.