Firefighters in Frederick County, Maryland, and many others are in mourning after a fire captain was killed in the line of duty.
Capt. Joshua Laird was injured battling flames Wednesday in Ijamsville, the Frederick County Fire Department said. He was 46 and is survived by his wife and two daughters.
American flags and Maryland flags will fly at half-staff until sunset the day Laird is buried, Gov. Larry Hogan announced.
"Maryland has lost another of our true heroes — Capt. Joshua Laird, a 21-year veteran of the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services, lost his life in the line of duty yesterday while bravely responding to a fire in Ijamsville. On behalf of all Marylanders, we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, his fellow firefighters, and to all those who loved him,” Hogan said in a statement Thursday.
Firefighters responded to a two-alarm fire at a large home on Ball Road at about 4:50 p.m.
Laird fell through the first floor of the home into the basement, officials said.
Teams of firefighters quickly found Laird and provided emergency medical care. He was airlifted to MedStar Washington Hospital Center where he died Wednesday evening.
A man sitting on a porch next door said he saw a lightning bolt strike the roof of the home. The lightning hit a satellite dish and the dish exploded, the man said. About 30 or 40 minutes later, the man said he saw flames and firefighters on the scene. He said he told fire investigators what he saw.
Black bunting hung over the entrance to Laird’s fire station Thursday afternoon. Some neighbors left flowers or food.
“Josh is a hero,” Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner said. “Tonight, sadly, we are reminded of how dangerous the job really is.”
Laird was a beloved husband, father, son and mentor, fire officials said.
He lived in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, and was a member of Frederick County Fire and Rescue for more than 21 years.
“The void that he leaves behind will never be filled,” Frederick County Fire Rescue Chief Thomas Coe said.
Funeral arrangements will be announced.
Frederick County fire investigators declined to answer questions Thursday about the origin of the fire, saying they instead wanted to focus on Laird's family and fire service personnel.
“We are in constant contact with the Laird family and our DFRS families and are doing everything we can to make every resource available,” Coe said. “This unexpected loss of a father, a husband and a brother to firefighters across the nation will have a lasting impact on the Frederick and Fairfield communities. We are and will be here for them now and in the future.”
Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.