Virginia firefighter collapses and dies while battling an outdoor blaze

GATE CITY. Va. (AP) — A firefighter collapsed and died while battling a 3-acre (1-hectare) wildfire in southwestern Virginia, officials said.

Firefighter James C. Ward collapsed Saturday while working with a crew to extinguish the fire that broke out in Scott County, the Virginia Department of Forestry said in a statement posted on social media. Ward was taken to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tennessee, but he did not recover.

Ward, a Scott County resident, was an experienced part-time firefighter who had worked with the agency since 1998, officials said. He leaves behind a wife and son.

“Please keep James’ loved ones and his firefighter family in your thoughts and prayers,” State Forester Rob Farrell said in a statement. “And remember, everything you do to prevent wildfires helps protect our brave first responders.”

The blaze was contained Saturday. The cause is under investigation, officials said.

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