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FIREHOUSE FIRE IN IL

     

Friday, February 26, 2016 Clad in blue jeans and hooded sweatshirts, Stockton firefighters today battled a blaze that hit them where they live.A witness reported seeing smoke coming from the village’s fire station around 11 a.m. Within minutes, volunteer firefighters were on scene and emergency responders from nearby agencies had been called to help save the headquarters of the Stockton Fire Department.

No one was injured, according to Fire Chief Randy Baysinger. But the fire likely caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to firefighting equipment.

The flames took an emotional toll as well, he said.

“It was pretty overwhelming,” Baysinger said. “It is an emotional experience. It is a second home.”

A woman walking her dog first noticed the smoke, according to the Rev. Mike Morrissey, of nearby Holy Cross Catholic Church. She ran to the church and shouted for someone to call police, he said.

The fire likely was caused by an electrical malfunction in one of the department’s trailers, Baysinger said. The trailer was completely destroyed, as was one front-line engine.

Several other vehicles were substantially damaged, including a rescue truck and some pickup trucks. An official damage estimate won’t be available until assessors evaluate the equipment, Baysinger said.

“We’ve had a great loss of equipment,” Baysinger said.

With most of the team’s equipment in the burning station, the volunteer team was forced to rely on what was stored in a garage across the street. Many firefighters fought the blaze in their street clothes.

By the time the fire was extinguished, several volunteers’ faces were covered in soot.

Morrissey witnessed the event.

“It looked like their own home was on fire,” Morrissey said. “You could tell it was an emotional experience.”

Fire departments from Stockton, Pearl City, Scales Mound, Elizabeth, Warren, Lena and Apple River assisted at the scene.

Baysinger commended Stockton residents for their support. The church opened its doors to offer shelter from the cold, several local stores donated food and local residents stood by to offer support.

“Our community is incredible,” Baysinger said. “I can’t even tell you how many messages I have received.”

Baysinger said the department still will be able to provide fire protection for the community. Officials from neighboring fire departments have offered the use of their equipment, he said.

Colleen Hoefer, Stockton resident and mother of one of the volunteer firefighters, said she could see the pain on the firefighters’ faces as they shuffled into the church dining center to rest.

“To them, that was their house,” Hoefer said. “They don’t get paid for what they’re doing, and they put their heart and soul in this.”

UPDATE

STOCKTON, Ill. -- A blaze at the Stockton fire station this morning likely caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, according to Fire Chief Randy Baysinger.

The fire, which was reported at 11 a.m., likely was caused by an electrical malfunction in one of the department's trailers, Baysinger said. No one was injured.

The trailer was completely destroyed, as was one front-line engine, according to Baysinger. Several other vehicles were substantially damaged, including a rescue truck and some pickup trucks.

An official damage estimate won't be available until assessors evaluate the equipment, Baysinger said.

Baysinger said the department still will be able to provide fire protection for the community. Officials from neighboring fire departments have offered the use of their equipment as well, he said.

Fire departments from Stockton, Pearl City, Scales Mound, Elizabeth, Warren, Lena and Apple River assisted.

UPDATE

STOCKTON, Ill. -- Stockton firefighters were in their street clothes battling a blaze today at the village’s fire station.

No one was injured, according to local EMS officials. But several fire trucks and ambulances sustained visible fire damage.

A woman walking her dog near the fire station shortly after 11 a.m. noticed smoke coming from the building, according to the Rev. Mike Morrissey, of nearby Holy Cross Catholic Church. The woman, who was not identified, ran to the church to call the police, Morrissey said.

Most of Stockton’s fire equipment was inside the burning building, according to Stockton Police Chief LaDon Trost. Firefighters’ gear also was in the building, forcing them to fight the blaze in casual attire, he said.

Some backup fire equipment was stored in a nearby garage, Trost said. The department still needed to call in seven area fire departments to assist.