Storms lead to death of volunteer firefighter, elderly man in Wilkes County

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WILKES COUNTY, N.C.--A volunteer firefighter and an elderly man were killed in Wilkes County Thursday afternoon after strong thunderstorms ripped through the area.

Tony Barker, 36, a member of the Mountain View Fire Department, was electrocuted at the scene of a fire at the Absher’s Garage building on Traphill Road.

According to Wilkes County Fire Marshal Kevin Bounds, Barker was responding to a vehicle fire behind the garage with a metal roof. A tree brought down a power line on to the garage and Barker was instantly electrocuted when he touched the structure. Emergency personnel tried to revive Barker with CPR, but failed.

Barker had been with the Mountain View Fire Department for a year. He leaves behind a wife and three-year-old son.

"Tony was a super nice fellow. He was always happy, always grinning, always had something to say. He really loved the fire department, he had been in about a year and 5 months."  said Bill Johnson, Mountain View Fire Chief.

"Tony was a dedicated fireman. He was very proud to be a fireman in this community and be a part of this fire department." said Kevin Bounds, Wilkes County Fire Marshall.

Less than 10 minutes earlier, dispatch received a report of a tree on a man along Mountain Valley Church Road in the Mulberry-Fairplains Fire District.

Maurice Kilby, 76, died when a large white pine tree fell on him in his yard, according to Mulberry-Fairplains Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ricky Gambill.

Gambill said strong winds blew over both forks of the tree, and the larger fork fell on Kilby’s abdomen and chest. Kilby’s wife found him and called for help, but he was deceased when emergency personnel arrived, he said.

Daniel Lambert, his grandson and a captain in the Mulberry-Fairplains Fire Department, was among the first on the scene when the accident occurred.

Kilby was a longtime election official in the community and was part of a large family living in the area around Mountain Valley Baptist Church.