Town of Mayview mourns loss of volunteer firefighter killed while loading gear after fire

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MAYVIEW, Mo. -- People in the tiny town of Mayview are mourning the death of one of their volunteer firefighters killed in the line of duty Monday.

Mayview is about 45 miles east of Kansas City in Lafayette County.

With only about 200 people, it seems every one knows everybody here. And the loss of a man who volunteered to help his community is hitting folks hard.

Jeffrey Sanders and his grandson (Image courtesy of Sanders' family).

Jeffery Sanders, 55, and Jacob Hayward, 33, responded to a tree limb on fire along state Highway E at about 6 p.m. Monday.

Townspeople tell me they believe a broken power line may have started the fire.

As the two finished putting out the blaze and were wrapping up their gear, their fire truck blocked the southbound lane of the highway.

Another driver slowed to stop and wait for the firefighters. But a third vehicle did not, hitting the second car and pushing it into the fire truck.

The fire truck rolled down a steep embankment trapping the two firefighters underneath the rig and killing Sanders. Hayward suffered serious injuries and is in the intensive care unit at Research Medical Center fighting for his life.

"It’s very thick in the air," said Audrey Nelson, whose son is also a volunteer firefighter in Mayview. "You know the whole town has a different, I didn’t even have to step out of my house this morning yet and I could tell the difference in the air. It’s heavy. It’s going to be rough but I think the town pulls together and tries to help the family the most that they can. I’m sure they will because that’s the way Mayview is."

Even when he wasn't volunteering as a firefighter, Nelson says Sanders was someone folks could count on, always stopping to help a neighbor in this rural area. His family declined to speak with FOX 4 on camera, but many in town say they're working to help the family through this trying time.

The Missouri Fire Services Funeral Assistance Team also says it will help the Mayview Fire Protection District make arrangements for a first-responder killed while serving others.

Flags flew at half-staff Tuesday, following Sanders' death.