Illinois Firefighter Collapses, Dies at Blaze

Firefighter Joseph Zumwalt collapsed at the scene of a barn fire in Sheldon the morning of May 6.


Sheldon firefighter Joe Zumwalt is being remembered as a person who was always there to help out.

Mr. Zumwalt collapsed Sunday at the scene of a fire at the Mark Nagele residence on 3000 East Road.

According to Iroquois County Coroner Bill Cheatum, Mr. Zumwalt, 53, was helping to fight the fire in the tool shed at the Nagele residence at the time he collapsed.

"He was on the nozzle," Cheatum said. "They rotated him out and then the next thing they knew he had collapsed."

Mr. Zumwalt was taken to Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka, where he was pronounced dead, Cheatum said.

At this time, the cause of death is not clear, Cheatum said. "He had a physical in March," Cheatum said. "He was not on any medication and he had no medical problems."

Cheatum said an autopsy was to be performed today "to try to find out what happened."

Former Sheldon Fire Chief Tim Williamson said the firefighters are dealing with the loss of one of their own.

"Joe was on the department for many years," Williamson said, noting that he did not know the exact number.

"You could always count on him showing up," Williamson said. "We will greatly miss him.

Funeral Information

Visitation for Firefighter Zumwalt will be held Wednesday, May 9 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday, May 10 from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. at Baier Funeral Home, 102 West Oak St, Watseka, Ill.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, May 10 at 1 p.m. at Sheldon United Methodist Church at 480 North 5th Street, Sheldon, Ill.