Memorials honor fallen firefighter
NEW CARLISLE, Ind. -- In New Carlisle, a town of around 2,000 people, residents are grieving for Assistant Fire Chief Jamie Middlebrook. The volunteer firefighter died while fighting a fire at K-Fex, Inc. Tuesday evening.
A flag is draped off the ladder of a New Carlisle Fire Department engine.
Countless people have dropped off flowers, candles, flags and other items to the base of the flagpole at the fire station in remembrance of Middlebrook.
"It's so sad. It's so sad," said resident Nancy Taylor.
"It's horrible. I had people calling me from the Legion that knew his dad and knew Jamie that used to be on the fire department. They just could not get over it," said Daniel Shepherd.
Middlebrook had just celebrated his 41st birthday.
He has been a member of the department for half his life.
Wednesday, friends and family went to the fire station for support.
"He'd do anything for ya. Always giving you his heart and soul and his time," said Ann Rodgers, a friend of Middlebrook.
Rodgers says she heard the explosions Tuesday night that sent fire balls into the night sky.
She woke up to the tragic news that a firefighter - her friend of 15 years - lost his life.
"He would sit down with you and talk. Very outgoing man and he'd do anything to help you out," said Rodgers.
Shepherd says as a member of the community, there's only one thing he can think to do.
"I think what we're going to do is we're going to go down and shake as many hands as we can and tell them that we're sorry," said Shepherd.
The Allen County Coroner says Middlebrook died of blunt force trauma and a broken neck.
Governor Mike Pence released a statement, "I was saddened to learn of the death of New Carlisle Assistant Fire Chief Jamie Middlebrook, who lost his life protecting the safety of Hoosiers. Today, Indiana mourns the loss of a true Hoosier hero. On behalf of the state, the First Lady and I extend our condolences to his family and friends and hold them in prayer during this difficult time."
Jackie Walorski Tweeted her condolences, "Sending my heartfelt condolences to the family of Assistant Chief Jamie Middlebrook. We are forever grateful for his service and sacrifice."
And the Assistant State Fire Marshal, Robert Johnson, said, "The whole department is mourning. The whole state of Indiana. Firefighters across the country are mourning. But whenever you lose a firefighter it's part of a family. It's a brotherhood."