Kentucky Fire Chief Dies Following Response

The Lake Dreamland Fire Department is mourning the loss of their fire chief who died at his home early Friday morning, only a few hours after responding to a call.

Fire Chief John Wilkinson Jr., 44, responded to a tree fire Thursday night and died after his own firefighters responded to his residence for a medial call, according to The Courier-Journal.

He is the second person in his family to die in the line of duty.

Wilkinson's grandfather, Earl J. Wilkinson, was killed in 1950 when the fire truck in which he was riding rolled over, the newspaper reported.

Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Sam Weakley told the newspaper that an official cause of death is still pending, but could be related to heart disease.

Since Wilkinson's death occurred less than 24 hours following a response it is considered an on-duty death under the Hometown Heroes Act.

Wilkinson joined the department in 1985 and became chief in 2010, replacing his father, John Wilkinson Sr., who had served as chief since 1994.

He leaves behind his wife and their child.


Family members recalled during a recent interview that after their grandfather was killed, fellow firefighters put jugs out in stores and gas stations to collect money to pay for his funeral. will provide more information on this story as it becomes available.