Volunteer fireman dies battling house fire


LOWER MERION TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) — A Penn Wynne volunteer firefighter, on his final shift, died while battling a Fourth of July fire in Lower Merion. Volunteer firefighter Sean DeMuynck, 35, died in the line of duty.

Officials say DeMuynck responded to Rosedale Road in Wynnewood around 10:34 p.m. Sunday, along with other members of the Penn Wynne Fire Company. About half an hour later, a mayday call went out, and other firefighters found DeMuynck on the third floor of the home.

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Eyewitness video shows the fire engulfing the home.

Video shows the deadly fire that engulfed a home in Wynnewood Sunday night killing a volunteer firefighter working his final shift before moving home to Canada. Officials are looking into reports of fireworks nearby. @CBSPhilly @CBSNews pic.twitter.com/hrLgFziINt

— Alicia Roberts (@ARobertsCBS) July 6, 2021

“He’s one of the crews that went in to extinguish the fire, went up to the third floor. The atmosphere changed quickly on us, a lot of heat, a lot of fire,” Lower Merion Fire Chief Chas McGarvey said.

Emergency crews took DeMuynck to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“We as firefighters know the dangers we face, but somehow you never think one of your guys is going to pay the ultimate sacrifice and so, we are struggling,” McGarvey said.

DeMuynck worked as a volunteer firefighter with the department since August 2019. In a statement, the township said he and his wife planned on moving back to Canada Monday in order to be closer to family.

The 35-year-old Canadian native was in this area on a work visa with his wife. Fellow firefighters reflected on his love of hockey and dedication to his job.

“Sean was your classic, all-around good guy. He fit in everywhere. His dedication was second to none,” Penn Wynne Fire Chief Ted Schmid said.

“You see the flames start to leap out of the third floor,” neighbor Deborah Saldana said.

Saldana was at the new gutted home just two hours before it caught fire for a Fourth of July get-together.

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“You just could have just never imagined that something like this was going to end the night,” she said.

Officials are still working to figure out how the fire started, including reports someone may have been setting off fireworks nearby.

“It’s an ongoing investigation. We’re looking at everything there, but I can’t comment specifically on that at this time,” McGarvey said.

DeMuynck used to work for the Windsor Spitfires, a team within the Canadian Hockey League. The team issued this statement in response to his passing:

The Windsor Spitfires are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and former colleague Sean W. DeMuynck. Our love and thoughts go out to Sean and all of his family and friends. 

“The entire Windsor Spitfires organization is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former video coach Sean DeMuynck. Sean was an awesome person to be around and always came to the rink well prepared.  Sean will be dearly missed by everyone.” Said General Manager Bill Bowler.

Sean worked for the Spitfires as our Video Coach from 2013-2017 and won a Memorial Cup championship with the team in 2017. Firefighter DeMuynck faithfully served the citizens of Penn Wynne and Lower Merion Township as a Volunteer Firefighter since August of 2019.

He is survived by his wife and parents. Firefighter DeMuynck and his wife are Canadian and planned to move back home to rejoin their family today, July 5, 2021. Firefighter and Spitfire DeMuynck will be missed.

Once a Spitfire, Always a Spitfire

An investigation into the fire continues. No funeral arrangements have been made just yet.

Two other firefighters working that fire inside the burning were able to get out of the home uninjured.

Neighbors say they plan to start a GoFundMe page to help both families forever impacted by this tragedy.

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CBS3’s Natasha Brown and Alicia Roberts contributed to this report.