Louisiana honors its first female firefighter killed in line of duty
MOUNT HERMON - A community is honoring the life and service of a volunteer firefighter after she was killed in a crash while responding to a house fire last week.
Services were held Sunday for 54-year-old Ronda Varnado, the first female firefighter to perish in the line of duty from Louisiana. Honor guards and fire service personnel from around the state provided a continuous guard at her casket during visitation. Those in attendance praised Varnado for her dedication, sacrifice and her five years of service to her community.
Varnado’s flag-draped casket was carried to the graveside by the Town of Franklinton Fire Department’s antique 1934 Ford firetruck before being laid to rest at the Bethel Baptist Cemetery in Franklinton. The procession to the cemetery included over 60 fire trucks and fire service vehicles.
The crash occurred around 8:30 p.m. near the intersection of Mt. Pisgah Road and Burch Road. The Washington Parish Sheriff's Office says 54-year-old Ronda Varnado was driving a fully-loaded water truck to the scene of a house fire when she was involved in the wreck.
Officials said the truck tipped over, sliding several yards before hitting an embankment. That’s when officials said the water tank came loose and crashed into the truck cab killing Vanardo.
Flowers could be seen placed outside of Varnado's vehicle near the District No. 2 fire station Friday evening.
Varnado was a mother of two sons and two step-sons. She was also a retired registered nurse and was described as a caring woman with a beautiful personality.