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Tanker rollover kills firefighter

A volunteer firefighter with the Washington Township Fire Department died Sunday night after losing control of a tanker truck and crashing on his way to a brush fire, Fort Wayne authorities said.

The tanker truck was traveling south on Hillegas Road, and the driver was trying to make a right turn to go west on Butler Road when the truck rolled several times. The truck came to a rest on its side about 100 yards south of the northwest Fort Wayne intersection where the Animal Care & Control shelter is located.

"The tanker truck was carrying a lot of water, and water obviously carries a lot of weight and momentum," said Sgt. Mark Brooks, a city police spokesman.

As the truck rolled, it struck three utility poles and brought down live wires. Crews were called to the scene shortly after 8:30 p.m., including Indiana Michigan Power workers who were needed to shut off the power to make the scene safe for first responders, Brooks said.

The firefighter, whose identity was not released pending family notification, was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash left the truck "completely destroyed," Brooks said.

The firefighter, the only person in the tanker truck, had been taking the water to help fight a brush fire in the 4300 block of Butler Road, Brooks said.

Josh Schaffer, who lives on Hillegas Road less than a quarter-mile from the crash scene, was at home when the crash happened.

"I just heard a big boom, and my power went out," said Schaffer, who was one of many people in the area who lost electricity as a result of the crash.

The crash closed the intersection of Hillegas and Butler roads for several hours.

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