Firefighters face danger on highway calls

CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – Just before 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, a Canfield fire truck and turnpike vehicle responded to a call for a vehicle into a guardrail on the Ohio Turnpike.

“They had just arrived on the scene and just taken their seat belts off and then the impact happened,” Cardinal Joint Fire District Chief Don Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said crashes like the one on Wednesday are something they train for and always have in the back of their minds when responding to call on a major highway.

An SUV that stopped behind the fire truck was slammed into by a pick-up towing a car hauler. The SUV burst into flames and its driver Karen Zorn, 27, of Maryland, died.

Firefighters Brian Blevins and Troy Kolar had to climb through the windows of the truck to try and help the victims and put out the fire. Hutchison said his guys put their lives on the line each and every day on duty.

“There is a possibility something bad can happen to them also, just like everything else, even out there trying to help someone else,” he said.

As reporter Dan Martin was talking to the chief, another call came in for a crash on State Route 11 just before 6 p.m. north of U.S. Route 224. The accident caused traffic to be back up for 6 miles. At least three vehicles were involved, but it is unknown if anyone was injured.

Most people understand the dangers of fighting fires, but it is also extremely dangerous to help on the side of a highway.

“The speed limit is 70 miles per hour now, so everybody does 70-plus,” Hutchinson said.

The chief said every year his guys go through training for situations just like this.

“Number one thing is positioning your fire truck to protect yourself at the scene of a call,” Hutchinson said.

The firefighters were released from the hospital, and the turnpike re-opened a little after 5 p.m. There were a handful of other vehicles involved, and people hurt but none of the other injuries are life-threatening.

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