at the door to his family's home Monday - despite the smoke pouring from the eaves. When I took the picture, the smoke was barely visible on his side of the house but it was pouring from the other side and flames were licking out the foundation. But that didn't sway this little soldier. It was his job to watch the door and he most certainly did. It took three firefighters to convince him to move away (he had to be tied to a nearby barn). The house was gutted and the little family that lived here lost everything.
But that is not the real story here. This is the tragedy of what really happened at that fire:
I watched a man die, a hero who died in the line of duty.
Hartland Firefighter Michael Snowman - only 49 - died of a massive heart attack at that house fire pictured here. Mike was a VOLUNTEER - who ran from his job at the local gas company to see what purpose he could serve at the fire.
At first we thought that Mike had just fallen over a nest of hoses. But he didn't get up. And he didn't move. And Scott Noble of the Pittsfield Fire Department began screaming for help. Mike was a big man and it took a bit of work and about four men and women to get him up and sitting on the step of the truck, where he was talking to rescue workers, knew where he was, what he was doing. And then his eyes rolled back and he turned blue. Nothing they did could revive him. There he was on the edge of the roadway, laying in the water spilled from the fire truck, his fellow firefighters just feet away fighting the house fire, another firefighter sitting astride him, doing CPR, and he died.
Everyone at the scene was stunned but kept working, doing what they are trained to do.
About 2 we got the word that he had been airlifted to EMMC but there was nothing anyone could do for him. These firefighters - strong men who lift hoses, charge into burning homes, rescue pets, pull apart cars and trucks to save the injured, scramble through woods, barns, up stairs, down cellars, on rooftops, any where they need to go - these brave men stood on the side of the road and cried. They were devastated and bereft.
Tonight at 6 o'clock, when they run the fire department's test tones over my scanner, they will do a last call for Mike Snowman. Goodbye Mike. You were a hero for more than 25 years to the fire departments you served. I for one will miss you.