GAINESVILLE, Mo. – Volunteer firefighters in Ozark County could only watch as a fire destroyed their own station early Tuesday morning.
The fire at the Gainesville Fire Department occurred one month to the day after flash flooding left a mess inside the station. The department hadn’t fully cleaned up from the flood waters when the fire occurred.
“Everything we saved from the flood was destroyed in the fire,” says Gainesville Fire Chief, Ed Doiron, while staring inside one of the burned out fire truck bays.
“We pretty much dodged a bullet [after the flood] by saving the fire trucks,” he says. “Because we were fully functional as a department. As far as this goes, I’m still– it hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m sure it will at some point but right now it’s just a numbing effect.”
Doiron, who lives only a few blocks away from the station, says when received word of the fire and headed for the department he could already see the glow from the flames.
But when he and his volunteer team arrived there was little they could do –- their equipment and three trucks were trapped inside the burning building.
“[That brush truck is] about $3,000 worth of investment there,” he says while pointing a brush truck the station received from the Department of Conservation. “We actually painted it ourselves.
Gainesville, like many small departments, is unable to buy new trucks and fire engines. The department relies on discounts from stations in larger areas and deals from government organizations.
While the station has insurance, replacing the three trucks could prove to be a challenge in the future.
“The ladder truck I got a really good deal on, it was only $20,000. For what would be new — a $700,000 truck. [It was] 25 years old — it worked great,” Doiron says.
The damage to everything, including the loss of the building, is estimated to be around $500,000, says Doiron.
But even with the loss, he says the community will still be covered. A local department has agreed to keep a truck in the area until the station is back on its feet.
“We should be pretty well equipped on a temporary basis,” Doiron says. “It’s just a matter of time before we can do that.”
The fire is still under investigation at this point but it’s not believed to be suspicious.