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Founding member of volunteer department dies trying to extinguish fire in yard

Harold Wilson, 84, may have suffered medical emergency, collapsed into flames

By FireRescue1 Staff

PUTNAM VALLEY, N.Y. — A founding member of a N.Y. volunteer fire department died Saturday trying to extinguish a brush fire in his yard.

Harold Wilson, 84, may have suffered a medical emergency and collapsed into the flames, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal.

“They were performing CPR on him right away,” said Fire Chief Shawn Keeler of the Putnam Valley Fire Department. “We are not sure if he suffered a heart attack and was overcome by the smoke or if he was overcome by the smoke and suffered a heart attack.”

Wilson was discarding ashes from a wood-burning stove, and the brush fire apparently started when some of them fell to the ground, the paper reported.

He then went back into his house to get a container of water to try to put out the fire out.

Chief Keeler told the Journal News that the initial 911 call bounced to a different area code and was routed back to Putnam’s dispatched center.

The scene was a “little chaotic,” he said, because it was called in as a structure fire.

Firefighter Fred Blumer, Wilson's nephew, said he heard the radio dispatches about the fire.

“When they said the address I said ‘Oh no,’ and I could kind of see what was happening,” Firefighter Blumer said.

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