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Southern Aroostook firefighters honor fallen comrade

HOULTON, Maine — Nearly 50 firefighters and law enforcement officials from eight departments gathered Thursday evening to pay tribute to a Berwick firefighter who lost his life March 1 in the line of duty.

Berwick Fire Department Capt. Joel Barnes died fighting a massive apartment fire in Berwick on Friday, March 1. The 32-year-old died saving the lives of several residents in the apartment complex and also used his own body to shield a fellow firefighter.

The Houlton event was prompted by the Aroostook County Fire Chiefs who called for a show of support. A moment of silence was held at the Houlton Fire Department, with representatives attending from the fire departments in Hodgdon, Linneus, Littleton, Monticello, Oakfield and Island Falls. Members of the Houlton Police Department also joined in the service, which featured a prayer from Pastor Wayne Robertson of the Houlton Wesleyan Church.

“We wanted to show our support to the Berwick Fire Department and the family of Capt. Barnes, to let them know we were with them in spirit,” Houlton Fire Chief Milton Cone said. “We recognize and know what they are going through.”

Cone said that while he was not aware of anyone in the southern Aroostook area with a personal connection to Capt. Barnes, any time a firefighter is injured or killed in the line of duty it affects every emergency response person across the state.

“I don’t know Joel Barnes personally, but I know the type of person he is,” Cone said. “We are fortunate that every fire department has that type of an individual who has sacrificed the number of hours for training or time away from their families to respond to fires and do what they can for their communities.”

Cone said reading through Capt. Barnes’ obituary, he learned Barnes was a family man who was also very involved in his community.

“I would have loved to have him in my department,” the Houlton chief said. “He is exactly the type of individual every fire department looks for. The Berwick Fire Department and Capt. Barnes’ family are in our hearts, minds and prayers.”

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