1/21/05- A mid-Michigan firefighter died in an early Thursday morning blaze, and 3 others are sent to the hospital. The fire chief of Summit Township tells 6 News that 39-year-old Firefighter Scott Thornton was killed when he became trapped inside a burning home after running out of oxygen.
It happened around 7am on Browns Lake Road in Summit Township. F irefighters say when they arrived on the scene, they could see smoke billowing, but no fire,so Thornton and others went inside to begin a search.
Officials say Thornton ran low on oxygen, became disoriented and then trapped on the 2nd floor of that home. Firefighters fought through the blaze to find their colleague, 3 suffering smoke inhalation. All were later taken to the hospital and that's where Thornton was pronounced dead.
Chief Mike Hendges: "He was jovial, good sense of humor."
He was a family man and a firefighter. C hief Mike Hendges says Captain Scott Thornton was living his dream, fire fighting was in his blood.
Chief Mike Hendges: "Scott comes from a line of firefighters, he's the 3rd generation firefighter for Summit Township."
For the past 19 years, Thornton served as a Summit Township firefighter. As a leader in the department, Hendges says Thornton was a mentor to many.
Chief Mike Hendges: " Scott was an extremely valuable member of our fire department, he was a captain and training officer, he had involvement in all 3 shifts and our paid on-call members."
Hendges says Thornton was well respected not only in Summit Township,but throughout the entire fire fighting community.
Chief Mike Hendges: "He also sought to attain more knowledge, he lived and breathed fire fighting."
In the small close-knit department, Hendges says the main focus now turns to Thornton's family, both at home and on the force, h elping them to deal with the loss of their loved one and leader.
Chief Mike Hendges: "The recovery effort never stops, we've got to be there for each other and provide a shoulder for others to lean on."
The cause of that fire is still under investigation. The Jackson County fire inspector and state fire marshall are looking into how and why the fire began.