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Incident Name: 
Date: 11/12/05
Personnel:  Max Buford Willard
Age: 68
Agency/Organization: Oakwood Volunteer Fire Department
Position: Fire Chief

Summary: Chief Willard and the members of his fire department and other fire departments were fighting a stubborn wildland fire in a wooded area in Shortt Gap, VA. The fire, which was caused by sparks from a lawn mower, eventually spread to approximately 350 acres. A total of approximately 70 firefighters were working the incident. About an hour into the fire fight, Chief Willard entered the woods with a rake. It was approximately 1400 hrs and Chief Willard was not accompanied by anyone. When Chief Willard did not return from his task after it had grown dark, firefighters began to search for him. Chief Willard's body was located at approximately 0830 hrs on the following morning about 1/4 mi into the woods. He had suffered extensive burns. Although the details of Chief Willard's death cannot be known, an investigator speculated that Chief Willard was overtaken by the fire while raking a fire line. He did not have time to escape uphill.

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Oakwood Volunteer Fire Department, Intersection US 460 and State Rt. 624, Oakwood, Virginia 24631

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • 11/18/2005, 11 a.m. at Buchanan Funeral Chapel in Keen Mountain, VA.
  • State of Virginia: House Joint Resolution No. 732, Celebrating the life of Fire Chief Max Willard.

    Jan 10, 2007

  • Virginia LODDs 1936-2008, posted on the wall: Max Buford Willard

 

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