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Flags flown at half-staff to honor fallen volunteer firefighter

Firefighters lined overpasses as a procession carried volunteer firefighter Austin Smith through his hometown of St. Paul, Ore.

ST PAUL, Ore. — Local fire departments lined roadways through the Portland metro on Friday as a procession carried home the body of a volunteer firefighter who died battling a barn fire on Thursday.

Austin Smith, 30, died after something unexpectedly exploded while he was fighting a barn fire in rural Marion County. 

The procession stretched from Clackamas County, south on I-205 and I-5, through Smith's hometown of St. Paul and on to a funeral home in Newberg. Firefighters from Aurora, Canby and Molalla fire departments lined up along overpasses above the interstate to pay respects.

Details of a memorial service have not yet been announced.

RELATED: 'Our hearts are broken': Firefighter dies from injuries sustained battling large barn fire in St. Paul

Gov. Kate Brown ordered flags be flown at half-staff from Friday afternoon until sunset Saturday.

"Firefighting is often difficult and dangerous work, and we honor those who make the ultimate sacrifice to protect our land, our communities, and fellow Oregonians," Gov. Brown said. "Dan and I are keeping Mr. Smith's family, friends, and the St. Paul community in our thoughts during this time as they mourn the loss of a dedicated community volunteer."

Posted by St Paul Fire District on Friday, February 4, 2022

Just after 4 a.m. Thursday, firefighters were sent to a large barn fire on Champoeg Creek Lane NE near McKay Road NE in St. Paul. Shortly after firefighters arrived, there was an explosion and Smith was severely injured. He was taken by Life Flight helicopter to Oregon Health & Science University, where he died from his injuries.

Credit: KGW

According to Pacific Northwest craft beer blog New School Beer, Smith was an award-winning hop farmer at B&D Farms and a talented homebrewer with plans to open a brewery and taproom later this year. 

Smith had volunteered with the St. Paul Fire Department since 2015 and leaves behind a wife and extended family in the St. Paul area.

"[Austin] and his family are entrenched in the very culture of what this community does every day and what it means," said Mark Daniel, an SPFD spokesperson, during a Thursday news conference. "Our hearts are broken. He will be sorely missed. It's felt very, very deeply in our community."

In lieu of flowers, donations to either the St. Paul Fire District or the GoFundMe page for family expenses are preferred. You can send donations to the fire district at:
St. Paul Fire District
4233 Church Ave NE
P.O. Box 1
St. Paul, OR 97137

RELATED: Friends and family pay respects to longtime Clark County firefighter

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