A Fremont County Deputy Fire Chief, Clarence Hartbank, who was hurt when he fell through a cellar door while fighting a grass fire, died Wednesday at a hospital in Denver.

According to the official account of the Fremont County Fire Protection District, on September 10, a grass fire was reported in the area of Eight Mile Road and Lost Wells Butte that was threatening structures. During the incident, Clarence "Speed" Hartbank and another Deputy Chief, Dan Oakley, were going to check a burned area that involved a cellar or bunker that was built level with the ground. The bunker was larger than anticipated and as Hartbank was walking along the edge, the ground gave way and he began to fall into the bunker. Deputy Chief Oakley tried to reach him unsuccessfully. Hartbank fell through the ground into the bunker that was still burning. Oakley and Sheriff’s Deputy Donovan Detimore entered the front of the bunker and located Hartbank and removed him. The two rescuers were both treated and released at the Riverton Hospital. Deputy Chief Hartbank was transported via lifeflight to the Swedish Medical Burn Center in Denver, CO. He suffered 2nd degree burns to 38% of his body.

Fremont County Fire Chief Craig Haslam today issued this statement...

"It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that Wednesday at 2:30 pm Deputy Chief Clarence “Speed” Hartbank passed away. Speed succumbed to the injuries that he received while fighting a fire on Sept. 10th, 2015. Fremont County Fire Protection District has lost one of its finest and a dear friend. Per Speed’s wishes, his body is being cremated and a memorial service is being planned."