Posted at: 09/19/2013 2:46 PM
Updated at: 09/19/2013 10:12 PM
By: Alan Hoglund & Maarja Anderson
Fire has destroyed a volunteer fire hall and six fire trucks in a small northwestern Wisconsin town.
The fire in the Gordon Fire Hall was reported around Noon Thursday. Five agencies responded, but the flames were too high. Gordon Fire Chief Mike Chmielecki said the building is a total loss.
"It's pretty sad," said Chmielecki. "It's definitely a big difference between four months ago and today."
In May, the Gordon Fire Hall acted as the incident command center during the Germann Road Fire. Hundreds of responders came and went through the fire hall during their efforts to contain the massive fire.
Besides the six trucks destroyed in Thursday's fire, all of the Gordon firefighters personal protective equipment was lost, so they couldn't help fight the blaze.
"It was pretty difficult. Anybody with the Gordon Fire Department didn't participate in [firefighting efforts]. We had mutual aid agencies put out the fire," Chmielecki said. "It was pretty tough because there are metal garage doors that they had to get through."
Chmielecki says there were several explosions inside the hall, which he says those likely came from the truck equipment.
No one was injured and the county is investigating the cause of the fire.
"Something like this is devastating, not only to the department that owns it [the fire hall], but also the neighbors. There's a lot of investment in volunteerism in this county," said Keith Kesler, Director of Emergency Management in Douglas County.
Kesler said the Gordon Fire Department could be in operation within a week. They won't have a fire hall, but mutual aid departments will help with equipment they need. In the meantime, local fire departments will help takeover any emergency needs in the area.
The department is made up of 15 volunteer firefighters.
State Senator Bob Jauch and Representative Nick Milroy released the following statement:
"We are saddened to learn of the fire that has destroyed the Gordon Fire Hall and resulted in the loss of the Township’s fire righting equipment. Upon hearing about the fire we immediately contacted Wisconsin Emergency Management to discuss ways the for the department to obtain temporary equipment from other departments around the state to help provide interim coverage as they recover from this fire and begin the process of rebuilding their fire department.
Douglas County Emergency Management Director Keith Kesler and other local officials are working to assist the township as well. We also understand that neighboring townships have stepped up to provide fire coverage to the citizens of Gordon until a temporary department is in place.
Once the township has a full account of the damages and the costs associated with rebuilding the department, we will work with Town of Gordon officials to make sure they have the resources necessary to rebuild the fire hall and the replace the equipment they’ve lost."