Berwick Fire Capt. Joel Barnes Photo courtesy of the Barnes family

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — A new scholarship for Old Orchard Beach High School graduates is being established to honor the late Joel Barnes, a firefighter who died a hero on March 1.

Barnes graduated from Old Orchard Beach High School in 2005. From a young age, his dream was to be a firefighter, and he began pouring over books about fire science and emergency medicine at the age of 10.

Barnes graduated from Southern Maine Community College in 2010 with a degree in para medicine.

On March 1, Barnes, a firefighter for the town of Berwick, responded with his crew to a four-alarm fire in an apartment building. He and a fellow firefighter were trapped on the third floor of the apartment, and as flames neared, he threw himself on top of his colleague to shield him from the heat and flames.

Barnes died that day at the age of 32 of hyperthernia, according to the state fire marshal.

The cause of the fire was determined to be discarded smoking material, the state fire marshal said.

Barnes is believed to have been the first firefighter to have died in a fire in Maine in more than 38 years. About 2,500 people gathered at a service to honor Barnes on March 10 at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

The Old Orchard Beach Alumni association is honoring Barnes by inducting the fallen firefighter into the Old Orchard Beach High School Hall of Fame at the Sept. 14 all school reunion, said OOBHS Alumni President Mark Andrews.

A scholarship is also being created in Barnes name for Old Orchard Beach High School graduates who want to pursue a career in public safety, said Andrews. The association has not yet determined the amount of the scholarship.

Donations to the scholarship can be made to Capt. Joel Barnes Scholarship, c/o OOB Alumni Association INC., PO Box 337, Old Orchard Beach, ME, 04064.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be reached at 780-9015 or by email at [email protected].

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