ST. PAUL, Ore. (KOIN) — A volunteer firefighter who was critically injured while battling a large barn fire near St. Paul Thursday morning has died from his injuries, authorities announced.
Thirty-year-old Austin Smith, a St. Paul resident, died from his injuries after he was airlifted to OHSU in Portland, officials said.
Smith, who served in the St. Paul Fire District since 2015, left behind a wife and extended family in the St. Paul area.
Fire crews responded to the barn fire on Champoeg Creek Lane NE near McKay Road just after 4 a.m. Thursday, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
As firefighters battled the flames, there was a large explosion that critically injured Austin Smith — a seven-year volunteer member of the St. Paul fire department, officials said.
Mark Daniel with St. Paul fire graduated from the fire academy with Smith in 2015. He said St. Paul won’t be the same without his friend and fellow firefighter.
“We in the St. Paul community are absolutely heartbroken over this loss. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Austin’s family and friends as we all begin the grieving process,” Daniel said.
Smith was a big part of the St. Paul rodeo. Rodeo officials told KOIN 6 his family has been involved with the rodeo since it started in 1936.
Not only was Smith a volunteer firefighter, he was also a member of the St. Paul Jaycees – a group that does community service work.
The Marion County Board of Commissioners released a statement sharing their condolences along with first responder groups across the region, including the Washington County Sheriff’s Office who tweeted saying “our thoughts are with the family of firefighter Austin Smith and the St. Paul fire district during this tragic time.”
A cause of the fire has not been determined, according to authorities. The investigation is being conducted by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and the State Fire Marshal’s office.