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'He was always there' Firefighters remember John Hazlett of Odell

Support came from around the state for one of the fallen on Saturday.

Approximately 450 people attended a memorial service for firefighter John R. Hazlett of Odell Fire Protection District. The crowd, which included State Fire Marshal Bob Garrison, filled Bowe Theater at Hood River Valley High School.

"It was very dramatic, and a great show of respect to John," said Odell training officer Devon Wells, who was one of the speakers at the event that was sometimes solemn, sometimes humorous as firefighters remembered a dedicated firefighter.

Hazlett died Aug. 19 when the Odell Fire District water tender he was driving on Interstate 84 hear Cascade Locks had a front tire blow out, causing the truck to leave the road and hit a tree.

"All those firefighters being there was an amazing sight," Wells said. "It was a great showing of all John's friends and how many people he knew and cared about him."

Hazlett served for 10 years in Odell and West Side Fire Departments. His was the first line of duty fire death in Oregon since 1997; it was second ever for Hood River County, first ever for Odell.

Odell Chief Jeff Walker presented the family with flags, helmets and a badge in the firefighter's memory. Speakers included Ron Kroop from Oregon Department of Transportation, Hazlett's employer, and Odell EMS Captain Dean Kinne. Anderson Funeral Home provided funeral services and Rev. Silas Shotwell presided.

Wells said speakers talked of how John had always been there at the meetings, and was always interested in training and becoming "the best firefighter he could."

"He was very interested in going to conflagration fires and was waiting for his opportunity this fire season to help his neighbors. He was always there," Wells said.

Garrison delivered a message on behalf of his office and Gov. John Kitzhaber.

"It was great to see that we actually have representative at the state level who are interested in local firefighters across the state. He showed they're there to help us out," Wells said.

"All in all it was a good opporutnity to share in John's life and remember the good parts of it."

Outside the building, trucks from Hood River Fire Department and Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue in The Dalles crossed ladders and held a flag, the traditional tribute to a fallen firefighter.

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