Hydro Mourns Loss of Firefighter

Tuesday, March 24th 2009, 6:19 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

HYDRO, Oklahoma -- The small town of Hydro is still coming to terms with a devastating loss.

In one incident the town's fire chief was killed and nearly half of the fire department was sent to the hospital.

Investigators have determined this was an accident. It appears a fire in a grain bin started on its own and a firefighter trying to put out the fire lost his life.

Investigators spent the day removing soybeans from the grain bin in Hydro.

"We're checking to make sure there is not extension of the fire, making sure we got all the hot spots out at this time," Mike Karlin with the Weatherford Fire Department said.

A fire inside the bin Monday morning took the life of 37-year-old Nolan Schmidt, Hydro's Fire Chief.

"Everybody's just hanging in there and we're all sad because we lost a very good community member and fire chief," Hydro Assistant Fire Chief Dwight Slagell said.

Schmidt, along with his two brothers who are also Hydro firefighters, was trying to put out the fire when he was killed.

"He would do anything for anybody at any time," Slagell said.

Schmidt's brothers were injured, along with Allen Entz, another Hydro firefighter who was back at the scene the day after the fire.

A Weatherford firefighter was injured as well.

The State Fire Marshal's Office has determined that soybeans inside the bin along with other organic materials ignited on their own, causing the fire.

The assistant chief says they've never had to fight a fire inside one of the bins.

"There's always danger to it, there's danger in anything you do," Slagell said.

Now with nearly half of its 10 member fire department missing and the rest grieving, surrounding departments are taking up the task of keeping the town safe.

"Our hearts and our prayers go out to the family because those are the ones it's going to be toughest on," Dennis Wade with the Hydro Fire Department said.

Funeral plans for the Nolan Schmidt have been set for this Friday at 10 a.m. His service will be held at the Pleasant View Mennonite Church near Hydro.

A fund has been set up to help the Schmidt family with expenses. Donations can be made at Bank of Hydro locations in Hydro, Eakly or Weatherford.