Pa. Firefighter Killed in Wreck on Way to House Fire

A volunteer firefighter from the Abbottstown area was responding to a garage fire when he lost control of his Jeep, crashed into a fence and house, and was thrown from the vehicle, according to police.

Joey Byrne, president of United Hook & Ladder Fire Co. No. 33 confirmed late Wednesday that Brandon Little, 19, a two-year member of the volunteer fire company was killed. He said the Adams County Coroner's Office had already notified his family.

Excessive speed might have caused Little to lose control of the Jeep Grand Cherokee after he crested a steep hill on Kinneman Road, just south of Route 30 near Abbottstown, according to Eastern Adams Regional Police Chief Robert Then.

Police believe Little wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

Little was found by emergency personnel lying outside the vehicle. An initial investigation determined the Jeep went off the road, through a fence and struck a house in the 200 block of Kinneman Road. The Jeep might have rolled, and it came to rest on the other side of Larry McIntyre's lawn.

McIntyre said he was sitting on the sofa watching the news when he heard a terrible roar. Bits of shrapnel, broken fence posts, and debris from the car came crashing through the front window of his home.

Byrne said Little joined the company two years ago after graduating from New Oxford Senior High School. While United is a volunteer company, Little wanted to be a career firefighter and had just scored well on a test out of Montgomery County.

He had just completed the Firefighter 1 national certification, and was in the process of becoming an emergency medical technician. Little had a class Wednesday night, Byrne said. He wanted to be both an EMT and firefighter, he added.

Little was always at the station, Byrne said, and was a "go-to guy."

"He was an anomaly," Byrne said. "You just don't get kids like him anymore. He would do anything you asked of him."

Byrne said United responded to the fire, and other units were dispatched to the crash. The news of Little's death didn't reach United until they were back at the station, he added.

The crash occurred about a half-mile from Little's home, Byrne added. The fire company will meet with his family tomorrow to discuss what they can do. They will offer a funeral with honors.

The South Central Pennsylvania Critical Incident Stress Management Team was already at the United station Wednesday night talking with firefighters.

McIntyre said pieces of tire were ripped from the Jeep and flung against the roof of his home. A piece of a brake light came through the window and hit the far wall and the wooden fence in McIntyre's front yard was splintered.

Emergency personnel worked in the cold to clean debris from the road, while McIntyre stapled plastic sheets over the broken windows of his house.

"Right now, it don't matter if these windows are broken, if my house is cold tonight," he said. "Truth is, my first thought is for the young man laying out there."

About the fire

Police believe the volunteer firefighter was responding to a garage fire on Berlin Road, about five miles away from the scene of the crash. United Hook & Ladder responded to that fire, which caused moderate damage to a multi-bay garage.

Firefighters described it as a small fire stemming from a ground-floor heating unit for the structure. United Deputy Fire Chief Dustin Poist said firefighters were able to catch the fire before it took hold in the attic.

"We're pretty fortunate that we were able to get a quick knock on it," he said.

Douglas Fishel Jr., who ran unsuccessfully for Magisterial District Judge John C. Zepp III's seat last spring, operates an outdoor furnace business there.

Poist said the fire caused some damage to machinery inside the building and that his company would be working with the homeowner and his insurance company to determine a loss estimate.

According to Poist, a fire at that site in 2009 destroyed a similar garage-type structure.

This time, he said, "It will be able to be repaired."

Assisting United Hook & Ladder were fire companies from Hampton, Irishtown, York Springs and East Berlin.

Evening Sun reporter Craig Paskoski and the York Daily Record contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 - The Evening Sun, Hanover, Pa.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service