Volunteer firefighter killed while on duty

Published 1:42 pm Friday, July 7, 2017

On the evening of Thursday, July 6, at approximately 8:30 p.m., a Washington Parish volunteer firefighter was killed while responding to a house fire in the Mt. Hermon area, according to Chief Deputy Mike Haley of the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The firefighter, Ronda Varnado, 54, a resident of B. Riley Road near Franklinton, was driving a fully loaded water truck to the scene. Near the intersection of Mt. Pisgah Road and Burch Road, the truck reportedly left the roadway and tipped over, sliding several yards before striking an embankment. At that point, the water tank apparently came loose and crashed into the truck cab, causing Varnado’s death, Haley said.

Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies, Louisiana State Police and Northshore EMS responded to the scene. Washington Parish deputies conducted the accident investigation since it occurred on a parish road. The investigation continues pending further analysis of the accident scene and the return of toxicology reports, although impairment is not considered to have been a factor in the accident.

Sheriff Randy Seal said that Varnado’s death was devastating to not only first responders, but the community as a whole.

“This is a tragedy which affects not only the Varnado family but also the entire Washington Parish volunteer firefighter community,” Seal said. “Our volunteer firefighters do an excellent job providing fire response throughout the parish and are to be commended for their dedication and service to the citizens of our parish. I ask our entire citizenry to join with me in prayer for all who have been affected.”