Montgomery Fire Department mourning chief who died after collapsing while fighting fire

Residents called 911 to report a chimney fire just after 11:00 p.m. Tuesday

Photo courtesy State Fire Marshal's Office

MONTGOMERY, Mass. (WWLP) – The Montgomery Fire Department is in mourning Wednesday evening, after their fire chief collapsed and later died while putting out a house fire on Southampton Road.

State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey identified the firefighter as 59-year-old Montgomery Fire Chief Stephen Frye.

Department of Fire Services Public Information Officer Jennifer Mieth told 22News Frye was operating a hose in the back of the home at 1524 Southampton Road Tuesday evening when he collapsed. Frye was taken to Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, where he died.

“The small, close-knit fire department is devastated by the loss of the member, as is the entire community of Montgomery and the area first responders,” Meith said in a release sent to 22News.

The small town of Montgomery is mourning the loss of a father, friend and firefighter. Governor Charlie Baker said on Twitter he was “heartbroken to hear of the tragic loss” of Chief Frye, and sent his thoughts and prayers to his family and the Montgomery Fire Department.

State Fire Marshal Peter Ostrosky told 22News the Montgomery firefighter was working out back of the home at 1524 Southampton Road when he collapsed. Montgomery firefighters were first called to the home just after 11:00 p.m. for a report of a chimney fire. When they got there, the fire had spread and the home was completely engulfed in flames.

“This is a small very close tight-knit department and a very close-knit community that has lost one of their family really and so it’s a very difficult situation for all of us in the fire service but especially those firefighters,” Ostrosky told 22News.

Frye was a volunteer firefighter, and Fire Chief for the last 17 years. His son is also a Montgomery firefighter, and was also working to put out the fire when his father collapsed. Ostrosky told 22News that an autopsy will be done to determine the cause of death.

“Everybody up here is like a close-knit family. Everybody pretty much knows everybody so it makes it even harder for everybody in town,” Alfred Bennett, a Montgomery resident told 22News.

Mieth said the two residents of the home were able to get out of the home safely after being alerted by their smoke alarms. The house, however, is a total loss. The Red Cross is helping them find a temporary place to stay.

Due to the extent of the fire, Mieth said a second alarm was called for mutual aid from surrounding communities. Firefighters from Huntington, Southampton, Westfield, Westhampton, Russell, Barnes Air National Guard Base, Easthampton and Holyoke were all called in to help as well as Hilltown Ambulance, Massachusetts State Police and the Huntington Police Department.

Montgomery does not have a hydrant system, so firefighters had to rely on tanker trucks for water to put out the fire.

Mieth said the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing, but that it appears to have been accidental fire.