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2 deaths in 4 days rock Hartland Volunteer Fire Department

Judy Spencer’s death came as the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department responded Tuesday night to a fire in Somerset.

GASPORT, N.Y. — The Hartland Volunteer Fire Department was already planning one funeral. Now it must get ready for another.

Judy Spencer, 65, was the second member of the fire company in just four days. 

Spencer’s death came as the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department responded Tuesday night to a fire in Somerset.

“Approximately 50 large hay bales, maybe a few more, were on fire. We had more than 12 fire departments out assisting with the operations,” said Jonathan Schultz, director of Niagara County Emergency Services.

A dozen volunteer fire companies responded to the fire. At some point, fire trucks needed to be moved to continue battling the fire. 

Spencer, part of the Police Unit for the Hartland Company, was assisting with moving the trucks.

“A rescue truck from the Barker Fire Company was backing south on Quaker Road when the truck struck (Spencer), who as assisting as a spotter,” Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti said.

Filicetti said the Barker truck ran over Spencer, and she died from her injuries at the scene. The sheriff said an investigation is continuing, but he does not expect charges to be filed calling the incident a “tragic accident.”

Four days earlier, a longtime Hartland company member 89-year-old Merle Snell died at home. Snell’s wake is at the fire hall on Saturday. The twin tragedies have sent the fire company reeling.

“We’re grieving, trying to support the family of the victim as best we can, and it’s a very challenging time for us,” Chief Bryan Ames said.

Because of the two deaths, Hartland Volunteer Fire Department is out of service, temporarily not responding to calls.