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Blaze Destroys Fire Station; Department Loses Everything

Blaze Destroys Fire Station; Department Loses Everything

The Daily Mail via YellowBrix

January 14, 2010

Volunteers were able to beat back the flames, which were in the roof and licking out windows when they got to the scene, preventing the corrugated metal building from being utterly destroyed.

The interior and virtually all of its contents were rendered useless, though. Larry Tompkins, the recently elected town highway superintendent, was one of the first to arrive.

He employed a backhoe to tear open the electrically operated firehouse bay doors. Firefighters bravely drove out a tanker, a pumper, two other vehicles and one of the town’s two ambulances.

The cabs, exterior lights and hoses were already melted and misshapen, however, and the familiar soft yellow fire engines with their red lettering had been turned a dead gray.

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Screen Capture from WNYT Video Coverage

One ruined truck, transported to a nearby garage, bore a plaque dedicated to two of Ashland’s own, firefighting brethren, "Paul Alle and Gary Partridge, who gave their lives in the line of duty.”

The machines did not go down without a struggle. “Our pumper fought her way out,” Richard Tompkins said, trying not to show his emotions but failing.

“She was on fire when we got there but we put it out and used all her water on the flames. I was amazed the trucks started. You couldn’t read the dials. You had to do everything from memory.”

“This is our house,” said one firefighter, incredulously, standing in the wet ashes and black soot which were all that was left of the department’s meeting room, on the west side of the building.

“I mean this was our house,” the firefighter said. “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.”

Town officials met on Monday morning to plot a course for the future, with nowhere to report for work, having moved whatever filing cabinets the volunteers could salvage to safer ground.

“It’s pretty darn strange," said Diane Cross, the town’s administrative assistant and ambulance administrator, who may have spent more time in the building than any other resident.

“We’ve been getting up and coming here practically every day for 10 years and now there’s no place to go. We’ll move on, we have to, but it’s almost like we lost part of the family.”

Government officials were expected to set up shop in the basement of a local church, hoping to have a temporary work trailer on the site within days as the insurance company sifts through the facts.

Fire companies from Prattsville, Jewett, Windham and Hensonville, as well as Lexington, provided mutual aid, according to town spokeswoman and town clerk Justine Koehler.

Greene County Hazmat and Cause and Origin teams performed their critical tasks. A second ambulance owned by the town, parked elsewhere, was not damaged.

The ambulance squad, which also serves neighboring communities, will continue normal operations, Koehler said. Officials were hopeful the newer rig could be saved, but offered no guarantees.


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