The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City
Feb. 6—WAYNOKA — One week after a deadly house fire here, hundreds of community members, first responders and family members gathered Friday to honor the lives of two fallen volunteer firefighters.
Mourners paid their respects to Waynokafirefighter Tayler Bradfordand Fire Chief Lonnie Bolar, who died while trying to rescue two people from a burning home around 3 a.m.Jan. 29. The man and woman trapped in the home, Jim Jonesand Mylinda Walker, also died in the fire.
“Rural firefighters, volunteers, believe in mutual aid,” said Mike Feist, a volunteer with the Manchester Fire Department. “This is the height of mutual aid.”
Firefighters from across the state and region drove fire trucks to this small northwest Oklahomacommunity to attend funeral services for Bradford and Bolar at the Waynoka Public Schools Multipurpose Building.
Firefighters lined their engines up in a farm field across the street from the school, creating a red and yellow ribbon for mourners to view. Firefighters later escorted the caskets of the two firefighters to the local cemetery.
On Friday, OklahomaGov. Kevin Stittordered flags to fly at half-staff to honor the two.
“Both men tragically lost their lives while battling a house fire on January 29, 2021,” Stitt said in a news release. “Their service to our state will not be forgotten.”
Bradford, 28, was an athlete who held his school’s record in the long-jump. He enjoyed supporting the Waynoka Railroaders athletic teams, according to his obituary.
Sascha Baileysaid she remembers Bradford as a kind, caring man.
“I watched him grow up,” she said. “He’s a family man. Loves family. He never met anybody he didn’t like. He was Tay Tay. He loved everybody, and he put a smile on everybody’s face. Didn’t matter what it was. He always made somebody smile.”
Bradford is survived by his wife, Clair, and his sons, Rycen and Maverick.
Bolar, 45, was born in nearby Alva and graduated from Waynoka High School. He was involved in the school’s Future Farmers of America chapter, according to his obituary. He is survived by his wife, Janet, and four children.
Galen Hulsedrove from Kansasto remember Bolar. Hulse said his sister was Bolar’s next-door neighbor — and they were best friends, too.
“All I can say for Lonnie is that, if anybody ever needed anything, you didn’t have to ask him. He’d volunteer,” Hulse said. “He was a one-in-a-million guy. He’s kind of like a lot of people here in Waynoka. They take care of each other, help out each other whenever they need it. If there’s any benefit in stuff, people will always volunteer and do everything they can to help each other.”
Carmen firefighter Kevin Irwinsaid Bolar fought fires even when he wasn’t in a fire truck. Bolar worked for the county road department and used road graders to make trails for fire engines when fighting wildland fires.
“They were heroes,” Irwin said. “They both were. They were both good firefighters. I followed them on a lot of fires.”
Howard “Punky” Halcomb, a retired Pond Creekfire chief, was donned in a black ceremonial uniform and mask as he stood beside a fire truck. Though he never met Bradford or Bolar, he said, he understands their sacrifice and dedication to fighting fires.
“We’re here for their support today,” he said. “This is not about us. It’s about them. It’s a terrible loss, and we feel their pain. Most all of these department here are going to be volunteers.”
Bailey, who wore a Waynoka Fire Departmentshirt as she walked into the funeral, said Bolar was always willing to help others.
“He was a kind man that would give his shirt off his back,” she said. “He loved his family. He loved Waynoka, and he died doing what he loved. That’s Lonnie. Everybody’s hero.”
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