Ohio firefighter killed by water tank rupture

Ryan Seitz, 26, was fighting a brush fire when he was killed


By Collin Binkley
The Columbus Dispatch

LONDONDERRY, Ohio — One firefighter was killed and another injured while fighting a brush fire in Ross County yesterday evening.

Ryan Seitz, 26, died when a cap on a pressurized water tank flew off and struck him about 6 p.m., according to the McArthur Fire Department in Vinton County.

Seitz was a volunteer for the McArthur department and had been working with a dozen other agencies to extinguish a brush fire in a Liberty Township field. He died at the scene.

Another firefighter from the same department, Aaron Chesser, was transported to Adena Regional Medical Center in Chillicothe. He was treated there, then released last night, said Sybil Miller, the hospital's spokeswoman.

Details of how the tank's cap blew off weren't available late last night.

Firefighters in the county had worked through the day to put down a number of ground fires.

A wind advisory issued by the National Weather Service warned that winds of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts of up to 40 mph, would quickly spread fires in dry grass, requiring extra forces to fight the blaze.

The past month has been especially dry. That, coupled with weather that's hotter than usual for this time of year, has created conditions ripe for grass fires. Cooler weather is predicted this weekend.

The fire threatened the nearby village of Londonderry, according to WBNS-TV (Channel 10). About 20 homes were evacuated while crews worked to control the blaze. Residents were allowed to return to their homes by 8 p.m.

Other brush fires were reported in Madison and Pickaway counties and in Franklin County's Prairie Township. No other injuries were reported.

The Ross County sheriff's office and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the incident that killed Seitz.

He is the fifth firefighter in Ohio to die in the line of duty this year, according to the state fire marshal's office.

Officials at the McArthur Fire Department and Ross County sheriff's office declined to comment for this story.

Dispatch reporter Randy Ludlow contributed to this story.

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