SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) — A fierce and unforgiving fire robbed one family of a home and one firefighter of his life Monday afternoon.

Officials say John Appleton, 62, of Malden, suffered cardiac arrest while fighting a fire that destroyed a home along Happy Hollow Road.

He was rushed to the hospital but did not survive.

Appleton served as chaplain for the Malden Fire Department was also a pastor for Kanawha Salines Presbyterian Church (PCA).

The loss has first responders and community members reeling from shock and grief.

“It’s terrible,” neighbor Joy Armstead said. “People just think [firefighters] are automatically going to be there and don’t think enough about what they go through.”

Sissonville Assistant Fire Chief Mike Oxley says the tragedy is a grim reminder of the dangers firefighters face every day on the job.

“Our guys are well aware of the risk they take, and this just kind of brings it home,” he said.

Oxley said the burning home on a very hot day was a big safety risk, and that sometimes even the best preparation can’t prevent tragedy.

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To learn more about Appleton’s life and ministry, please see his obituary, found here.