MONTGOMERY, Mass. (WWLP) – The people of the western Hampden County Town of Montgomery are mourning the death of their longtime Fire Chief Stephen Frye.

Chief Frye, 59, was stricken early Wednesday trying to put out the fire that destroyed the house at 1524 Southampton Road.

Chief Frye was rushed to Baystate Noble hospital in Westfield, where he died a short time later.

Frye had been chief of Montgomery’s volunteer fire department for 13 years and a member of the department 25 years.

Purple and black bunting shrouded the fire department Thursday, a display of respect and affection from townspeople shocked by his death.

Melissa Bush of Montgomery told 22News, “It hit everybody very hard. It’s just unbelievable having such an impact on the town. He was a very nice man, he would wave and stop and see how everybody’s doing.”

The gutted house on Southampton Road as it looked Thursday, the debris marking the site of Chief Frye’s final command.

Words of respect and admiration from someone who knows all too well the struggles of being a rural volunteers firefighter.

“What they deal with up here, like they say earlier in the news, there are no hydrants up here, all water has to be brought up by trucks and it’s time consuming,” said Earl Stone, a retired Chester volunteer firefighter.

Chief Stephen Frye leaves his wife and two adult children, one, like his dad, a volunteer firefighter, who was with him that ill-fated night.Information on Frye’s service can be found here >>

Montgomery Fire Department mourning chief who died after collapsing while fighting fire