UPDATE: Funeral Held for Fallen Firefighter

By: Cathleen Moxley, Jeremy Edwards, Jennifer Rizzi Email
By: Cathleen Moxley, Jeremy Edwards, Jennifer Rizzi Email
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UPDATE 6/28/13 @ 6:30 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Hundreds took the time Friday to say their final farewells to a volunteer firefighter who died in the line of duty.

John Appleton, 62, went into cardiac arrest and died Monday while fighting a house fire in Sissonville.

On Friday, fire departments from across the area came to Riverside High School for a final salute and Appleton’s last call.

He had been with the Malden Volunteer Fire Department for seven years, and was also a pastor at a Presbyterian church.

The service was packed with fellow firefighters, who say whether they knew Appleton or not, it's still like losing a family member.

“We go out to do our jobs. If we have to give the ultimate sacrifice, we do, because we love the communities that we live in,” Lakewood Volunteer Fire Department Chief Terry White said.

UPDATE 6/25/13 @ 6 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Malden Fire Capt. Bradley Scott knew a day like this could eventually come. He just hoped it never would.

“You never think it's going to happen in your own house,” Scott said. “And it has.”

When John Appleton collapsed and died at a fire Monday in Sissonville, Scott and the other firefighters there lost a brother.

“We have our families at home, and we have our families here,” Scott said. “When stuff like this happens, we all bond together.”

Appleton had been a firefighter at Malden for seven years. He joined the department with his son and went out on practically every call. They said it was one of his passions. His other was serving as pastor for the local Presbyterian church.

“You knew where he was,” Chris Proctor said. “If the word of God was being preached, he was here. If there was a fire, he was over there.”

Chris Proctor helped the Appletons move to the region from Philadelphia nearly a decade ago. He says Appleton was like a second father to him.

“The hole that he's going to leave here is never going to be filled,” Proctor said.

John had spent months working on a project that was set to open this Thursday: a farmer's market to help bring the Malden community together. It was just one way Appleton lived his biggest piece of advice.

“If he was here, he'd be telling me to say this, 'Don't wait too long,' ” Proctor said. “Because you never know when you're not going to have that chance.”

“He loved this place,” Scott said. “He really cared about this place. He cared about his community.”

Visitation for the public is set from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Kanawha Salines Presbyterian Church.

A private service will take place at 10 a.m. Friday at the church.

Appleton will have a full firefighter’s funeral. At 11 a.m. Friday, his body will be placed onto a firetruck with a procession to Riverside High School in Quincy. The procession will go through the communities of Rand and Belle along Old U.S. 60 and off Orchard Avenue.

A public memorial service is scheduled at noon Friday at Riverside High School.

UPDATE 6/24/13 @ 10:30 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A fierce and unforgiving fire robbed one family of a home and one firefighter of his life Monday afternoon.

Officials say John Appleton, 62, of Malden, suffered cardiac arrest while fighting a fire that destroyed a home along Happy Hollow Road.

He was rushed to the hospital but did not survive.

Appleton served as chaplain for the Malden Fire Department was also a pastor for Kanawha Salines Presbyterian Church.

The loss has first responders and community remembers reeling from shock and grief.

"It's terrible," neighbor Joy Armstead said. "People just think [firefighters] are automatically going to be there and don't think enough about what they go through."

Sissonville Assistant Fire Chief Mike Oxley says the tragedy is a grim reminder of the dangers firefighters face every day on the job.

"Our guys are well aware of the risk they take, and this just kind of brings it home," he said.

Oxley said the burning home on a very hot day was a big safety risk, and that sometimes even the best preparation can't prevent tragedy.

"Outside of the structure they were trying to pull down some walls and he became lightheaded," Oxley said. "At that point they tried to cool him and he passed out."

Armstead says she wishes more people would recognize the risk firefighters take to keep the community safe.

"People just think they're automatically going to be there," she said. "People don't think enough about what they're going through."

Officials say it's not clear right now what caused the fire. No one was inside the home when it started.

UPDATE 6/24/13 @ 9:10 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The volunteer firefighter who died after collapsing on the job Monday afternoon has been identified.

Chaplain John T. Appleton was helping fight a fire at a house on Happy Hollow Road in Sissonville when he collapsed.

Appleton went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital, but did not survive.

Appleton had been with the department for seven years and also served as a pastor at the Kanawha Salines Presbyterian Church in Malden.

The family who lived at the mobile home was not there when it broke out.

UPDATE 6/24/13 @ 5:10 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A firefighter who collapsed on the job Monday afternoon has died.

The firefighter was helping fight a fire at a house on Happy Hollow Road in Sissonville.

He went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital, but did not survive.

The fire destroyed the home.

The family who lived there was not home when it broke out.

The firefighter's name has not been released.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 6/24/13 @ 4:15 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A firefighter had to be rushed to the hospital after he collapsed while fighting a house fire.

The fire broke out about 2:00 p.m. Monday on Happy Hollow Road in Sissonville.

Firefighters tell WSAZ.com the firefighter collapsed and went into cardiac arrest.

He was taken to the hospital and is in critical condition.

A woman and her granddaughter lived in the home, but were not home when the fire broke out.

The home is a total loss.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

ORIGINAL STORY 6/24/13 @ 2:15 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Firefighters are on the scene of a house fire on Happy Hollow Road in Sissonville.

The fire broke out about 2:15 p.m. Monday.

Dispatchers say when crews arrived on the scene flames were shooting out of the home.

Everyone was able to make it out of the home safely.

Firefighters say the home is a total loss.

We have a crew on the scene.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

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