Skip to main content
Publish date:

Beloved fire chief in western Wisconsin dies from COVID-19

The chief of the small town's fire department battled COVID-19 for over a month.
Screen Shot 2020-12-20 at 5.38.51 PM

A small town in western Wisconsin is mourning the death of its fire chief, who died last week after a lengthy battle with COVID-19. 

Donald E. Kittelson, 55, died Dec. 17 at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. The chief of the Clayton Fire Department in Polk County spent more than five weeks at the hospital, according to a family update shared by the Clayton Fire Department. 

An update two days before his passing noted that he was on a ventilator but developed infections in his lungs and the disease also began affecting his blood.

"We lost a hero tonight," Clayton Fire Department's Facebook page announced Thursday. "You have touched so many. Family, friends , Community and YOUR fire department brothers and sisters morn a great man. Love you CHIEF DON- you will never be forgotten."

The town of Clayton was filled with signs with a hopeful message for him to come home, and it spread throughout Polk County and crossed county and state lines as fire departments throughout Minnesota posted the signs. 

Each sign was sold for $20, with proceeds donated to the Kittelson family. 

A celebration of Kittelson's life will be held Saturday, Jan. 2, at the Clayton Fire Hall. It will feature a fire truck procession, with all neighboring fire departments encouraged to participate. 


Next Up

Kirill Kaprizov

Kirill Kaprizov's slow start is a thing of the past

A potential sophomore slump has been erased with a three-point night against the Devils..

mpd aldi incident screengrab

Video shows MPD officer grab, throw Aldi customer

The department says the matter was referred to the Office of Police Conduct Review.

US Sec Defense Flickr - Joe Bide Nov 11 2021

Biden lays out wintertime plan to curb COVID's spread

It comes as the U.S. reported its second case of the omicron variant.

Willow River DOC

MN Dept. of Corrections offering $5K bonuses as it seeks to hire 200

The DOC is offering hiring bonuses for new employees and for referrals.


3rd federal medical team to join COVID-19 fight in Minnesota

There are more than 1,500 people with COVID-19 admitted to Minnesota hospitals.

hospital, emergency room

Driver killed after other motorist crosses into opposite lane

The head-on crash occurred early Thursday, just north of the Twin Cities.

shot clock

MSHSL approves shot clock for Minnesota varsity basketball

Shot clocks will be required at all varsity games beginning in 2023-24.

Redmons Popcorn Colbert screengrab

Popcorn shop featured on 'The Late Show' has to close 2 days later

A county inspection after the national TV appearance found code violations.


prison, Rush City cell block

Inmate from Rush City prison dies after COVID-19 diagnosis

The man is the fifth incarcerated person in Minnesota to die from COVID-19.

Minnesota Sex Offender Program Moose Lake

Man at Moose Lake sex offender facility dies from COVID-19

It's the first COVID-related death of anyone in Minnesota's sex offender program.


Child under 10 years old dies from COVID-19 in Minnesota

An updated view of the COViD-19 pandemic in Minnesota.


Prison inmate dies 19 days after testing positive for COVID-19

It's the first prison death due to COVID-19 in Minnesota.

Daryl "Taddy" Drusch

Chief of Howard Lake Fire Department dies unexpectedly

Daryl "Taddy" Drusch passed away unexpectedly on Monday.

school, classroom

1st-grader in Minnesota dies from COVID-19 complications

It is believed to be the third pediatric death from COVID-19 in Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 1.02.48 PM

COVID-19 survey teams withdraw from MN due to racism, intimidation

The survey was aimed at learning more about COVID-19's spread in Minnesota.