Oxford, Maine, Fire Chief Gary Sacco dies at 63--while attending funeral for firefighter who died while fighting a fire

March 12, 2019: Oxford, Maine, Fire Chief Gary Sacco died after a medical issue on Sunday, March 10, 2019—while he was attending the funeral of Berwick, Maine, Fire Capt. Joel Barnes, who was died while shielding another firefighter while fighting a four-alarm fire on Friday, March 1, 2019. Sacco was 63. Sacco suffered the emergency as several thousand people, including hundreds of firefighters from across New England, gathered to honor Barnes. Maine Medical Center Spokesman Matt Wickenheiser confirmed that Sacco was stricken at the funeral, rushed to a hospital and pronounced dead in the emergency room. No further details have been released. ‘‘Our hearts, already broken by the loss of Captain Joel Barnes, also mourn the loss of Oxford Fire Chief Gary Sacco. In a testament to his own character, Chief Sacco lost his life while honoring that of his fallen brother, fellow firefighter Captain Barnes,’’ Maine Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement. ‘‘I join with people across Maine in offering my thoughts and prayers to Chief Sacco’s family and friends, the Oxford Fire Department, and all of Maine’s first responders. The State of Maine has given two of its best to the Heavens.’’ Sacco took office as the Oxford Fire Chief in 2017, after he retired from the New Gloucester Fire Department, where he had worked for twelve years. Sacco started his career as a call firefighter in South Portland, Capt. Scott Doyle, of New Gloucester Fire Rescue, said. Sacco then worked in Portland. He worked in New Gloucester from 1996 to 2015, when he retired. He was New Gloucester’s first full-time Fire Chief. The service for Barnes was held at the Cross Insurance Arena. The 32-year-old Barnes was the first firefighter to die while battling a fire in Maine since 1980, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Attribution: Governor's Office, The Associated Press, USA Today, WMTW

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