MOUNT ZION — Members of the Mount Zion fire department are used to early morning emergency calls.
What made the call early Saturday morning different was its location. It was the firehouse that was on fire.
“It’s unfortunate, but they even happen to the fire department,” Fire Chief Don Wright said.
The alarm calling firefighters into action came at 4:20 a.m. They arrived to find the ladder truck ablaze inside the building and smoke wafting from any openings. The fire eventually broke through the roof.
Wright said the heat was so intense that firefighters were prevented from getting to their equipment and could do little until help from neighboring departments arrived.
Long Creek Fire Protection District crews were the first to respond. Teaming up with the Mount Zion firefighters, they immediately began flooding the bay with water through the broken windows and an open door.
Wright said the fire was knocked down in about 20 minutes, but the damage was done.
The ladder truck was destroyed and the rear portion of the building, a fire engine, utility pick-up truck and command vehicle were severely damaged.
Wright said it appears the smoke damage to two rescue units, another fire engine and an airport crash truck kept in the front bay of the building was minimal. By 9 a.m., one of those pieces of equipment was already on its way to Warrensburg where firefighters there were prepared to clean it up and give it a good looking over.
In all, crews from eight area departments and the American Red Cross were on scene to assist with the effort. Responding were Decatur, Argenta-Oreana, South Wheatland, South Macon, Cerro Gordo, Dora Township and Harristown.
Wright said preliminary indications are the fire started in the ladder truck, which was purchased just a few months back, and was electrical in nature.
Despite the damage, Wright stressed his department is still ready to respond to calls within its territory.
“It hasn’t put us out of business,” he said.
He said a loaner ladder truck from Decatur was already on its way and that the Springfield and Warrensburg departments had made offers to provide more equipment if needed. He said mutual aid agreements already in place will assure the department’s needs are met until new equipment can be obtained.