MapsReportsWLF LinksMedia ArticlesMultimediaComments


Incident Name:  Median Grass Fire
Date: 11/13/10, 2:30 PM
Personnel: Chance H Zobel
Age: 23 years
Agency/Organization: Columbia-Richland Fire Department
Position: Firefighter

Summary: Firefighter Zobel and another firefighter were critically injured when they were struck by a motor vehicle while working a median fire on Interstate 20. Initial reports indicate that two vehicles were approaching the scene from behind. One vehicle slammed into the rear of the other, which had slowed or stopped, pushing it into a small gap between the fire apparatus and the guardrail, striking both, and also striking the two firefighters. Zobel died at the hospital after being airlifted there.

Chance Zobel Chance Zobel
Chance Zobel Chance Zobel

Horizontal line


Accident Location, eastbound lanes:

Return to top

Horizontal line

Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • NIOSH:One Career Fire Fighter Killed, Another Seriously Injured When Struck By a Vehicle While Working at a Grass Fire Along an Interstate Highway – South CarolinA
    • Contributing Factors
    • An errant vehicle was able to enter into a roadway emergency work zoneb and strike fire fighters who were attending to an emergency incident.
    • There was minimal time for the Victim to react and protect himself from the oncoming vehicle due to its speed and his position at the scene.
    • Key Recommendations
    • Develop pre-incident plans regarding response protocols, scene safety, and traffic control for roadway emergency work zones in conjunction with public safety agencies, traffic management organizations and private sector responders.
    • Develop, train on, and enforce standard operating procedures (SOPs) for roadway incidents that include response protocols for all possible types, locations, and durations of emergency roadway incidents that may occur within the department's jurisdiction
    • Ensure that all members receive training for responding to roadway incidents, with specific instruction on positioning apparatus to protect emergency workers from oncoming traffic
    • Develop and train members on a situational awareness program that addresses hazards specific to working in a roadway emergency work zone.

  • USFA Memorial Database: Chance H, Zobel
  • 3-Year Veteran Chance Zobel Dies in Line of Duty

    Nov 14, 2010 | Online Article

    Troopers say that at about 2:15 Saturday afternoon, the firemen were putting out a fire near mile marker 81 on Interstate 20. The emergency vehicles were parked on the inside lane on the eastbound side of I-20. Troopers say two vehicles were approaching the scene from behind when one slammed into the other.

Return to top
Horizontal line Links:

Return to top

Horizontal line

Media Articles and Reports.


  • Columbia Firefighter Dies of Injuries

    11/17/2010 | Online breaking news

    Both Firefighters were from Engine Company 4. The names of the pair have been released. Firefighter Chance Zobel passed away a short time ago. Firefighter Larry Irving has multiple injuries and is expected to survive.

  • Fallen Columbia firefighter laid to rest as friends, family mourn

    Nov 17, 2010 | Online Article

    COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Family, friends and firefighters from all over South Carolina gathered Wednesday to celebrate firefighter Chance Zobel's life. Zobel was killed while putting out a grass fire Saturday. Troopers say he was hit by an out of control car in the median on Interstate 20 near Clemson Road.

    A public memorial for the 23-year-old was held Wednesday afternoon at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia, followed by a burial service in Irmo. A visibly shaken and upset Interim Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins spoke to the media before the memorial. "I speak for all of the Columbia-Richland Fire Service today, when I say our hearts are heavy today, but also proud," said Jenkins. "We're proud that we knew Chance Zobel, proud that we worked alongside him and our world has been made better because of him."

    Jenkins said the last few days have been tough on his department. "While we do weep, we take confidence knowing that Chance Zobel was a great person," said Jenkins. "Words cannot describe just how good of a person Chance Zobel was."

    Inside the church, the 3,000 seat sanctuary was almost full. Nearly half the crowd was made up of uniformed personnel. The church pastor ,referring to Zobel's short life and career said, "He was a hero before last Saturday."

    The fallen firefighter was remembered as a son, a brother, a fiance, a friend and a public servant during the service. Zobel, just nine months into his dream job when he was killed, was due to be married to his fiance in April.

    After the memorial service, a fire truck carrying Zobel's body made the approximately 20-mile trip from downtown Columbia to Irmo. Firefighters from all over the state and perfect strangers lined the streets to pay tribute to Zobel. (More at the link, plus pictures of the procession.)


Return to top

Horizontal line

Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • Services:

    Columbia Interim Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins: A memorial for Chance Zobel will be held at 1:00PM Wednesday 11/17/10 at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia, followed by a burial service at Shady Grove United Methodist Church in Irmo. Zobel's family will receive friends from 6:00-8:00PM Tuesday 11/16/10 at the Dunbar Funeral Home in Irmo.

  • Funeral procession:

    The route from downtown Columbia to Irmo is as follows: Forest Dr. to Harden St, Harden to Laurel St, Laurel St. to Main St, Main St. to River Dr, River Dr. to Broad River Rd, Broad River Rd. to Shady Grove Rd, Shady Grove Rd. to St. John’s Rd. at the cemetery. Officers from various departments will be directing traffic.

  • Obituary: Chance Hyatt Zobel
  • Firefighters honor fallen comrade by running 5k in full gear

    Nov 23, 2010 | Online Article

    IRMO, SC (WIS) - Midlands firefighters are honoring one of their own. Chance Zobel, 23, was hit and killed by a car while battling a grass fire on interstate 20 about a week and a half ago.

    Instead of running in jogging shoes and shorts, firefighters suited up in full gear for the annual 5k Sleigh Bell Trot on Tuesday at Saluda Shoals Park in Irmo.

    They're preparing for a three-mile race in heavy gear to show their support. "I was there and I feel like it's important to run in his honor tonight," said Sky Haynie. (More at the link.)

  • 2011: 5K run honors fallen Columbia firefighter

    Nov 13, 2011 | Online Article

    The Columbia Fire Department and Irmo Fire District hosted the first annual "Gone, But Not Forgotten" 5K run and walk Sunday to honor a firefighter killed in the line of duty late last year.

    Firefighter Chance Zobel died on Nov. 13, 2010 when he was hit by a car while responding to a brush fire alongside Interstate 20 near Clemson Road.

    Runners met Sunday in front of the South Carolina Midlands First Responders Memorial at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. The race marked the one year anniversary of Zobel's death. (More at the link.)


Return to top

Contributors to this article:

WFF Boots & Wreath logo. Please support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation