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Zoneton fire chief dies after fight with cancer, COVID-19

A week into his cancer treatments, Chief Rob Orkies tested positive for COVID-19 and was later placed on a ventilator.

ZONETON, Ky. — Zoneton Fire Chief Rob Orkies has passed away following his battle with both cancer and COVID-19.

After more than 30 years of fighting fires, Orkies announced that doctors found late stage cancer in his neck and lymph nodes in September. A week into his treatments, Orkies tested positive for COVID-19 and was later placed on a ventilator.

Rich Carlson with Zoneton Fire said Orkies passed died Friday. A procession will escort Orkies from Suburban Hospital to Schoppenhorst Funeral Home.

"He was respected by all who knew him," Carlson said. "All of us are deeply saddened by his death. Our condolences and prayers go out to his family and friends."

Capt. Steven Corbin said Orkies was like a father to many guys in the department. Firefighters created a fundraiser for the Orkies family with t-shirts that read, "In this family, no one fights alone."

Fire departments from across the country have reached out to Zoneton fire in support of Orkies, with their neighbors in Jefferson County, Shepherdsville, Okolona and Mount Washington using the chief's call number, 8101.

Most recently, Zoneton honored Orkies during one of his favorite community events — Santa's visit to local neighborhoods. This year's fire truck was decked out in his favorite colors, red and white, along with a hint of green to bring attention to the fight against COVID-19.

Carlson said the fire department's flags will fly at half-mast. WHAS11 will provide more information when plans to honor Orkies are released.

RELATED: Zoneton fire truck decked out for Santa's ride in honor of chief battling COVID, cancer

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