Family remembers ex-fire chief killed in southwest Nebraska wildfires

The family says John Trumble was always helping others and he didn't hesitate to help when their town was threatened by wildfires.
Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 10:38 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 27, 2022 at 8:49 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As positive improvements are being made on the Road 702 wildfire in southwest Nebraska, family and community members are remembering the life of a man who lost his fight while working to protect others.

“On that day he just wanted to come out and help,” says Kyle Trumble.

Kyle, a volunteer firefighter, lost his father, John, Friday, while they were working to extinguish the flames near their home in Cambridge, Nebraska.

“He was just spotting, watching where the fire was going and relaying it to the command post so we could know where to set up the water tanks and evacuate people,” Kyle says.

66-year-old John was also a member of the Cambridge fire department for nearly 30 years, before retiring from his position as chief around 2011.

Kyle says his father is the reason he decided to join the department, too.

“My dad always did it, and I always looked up to my dad for doing it, and you know, when everyone else is running away he was going towards it.”

The flames have burned hundreds of acres of land, destroyed several homes, and injured more than a dozen people. It began on Friday in Kansas and quickly spread due to high winds.

Friday night, dozens of crews were trying to protect homes and people.

“It just kept going and going, you know, we’d evacuate this area and then the next thing you know were evacuating another area and we just kept evacuating areas because the fire just kept on rolling,” Kyle says.

Nebraska Emergency Management officials say John was overcome by smoke and fire while spotting after his car left the road due to poor visibility. His body was found early Saturday morning.

John leaves behind his four children and seven grandkids. He also leaves behind a legacy of kindness.

“Nobody’s perfect, but he was a caring person,” Kyle adds. “If anybody needed help, he would stop, drop everything, and go and help. He was always looking out for the well-being of the community over himself almost all the time.”

The Trumble family says they’re beyond grateful for the support, prayers, and well-wishes from the community of Cambridge and from across the state of Nebraska.

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