Returning firefighters find own station ablaze

August 26, 2008 9:54:29 AM PDT
Firefighters were right on top of this blaze. The De Queen fire station is closed on weekends, so when a call is received the firefighters go to the station to get their gear before heading out.

But when they gathered at the station Saturday to answer a call about a burning utility pole, they discovered they had another problem on their hands.

"One of the firemen called me and said the place was full of smoke. I thought he was joshing me. He said 'We've got a fire at the fire station,"' De Queen Fire Marshal Dennis Pruitt said.

Firefighters called a dispatcher to get the Southwestern Electric Power Co. to disconnect the station's electrical service.

"We told them the fire department has a fire. SWEPCO said 'Yeah, the fire department has a fire.' The dispatcher told them, 'No it's the fire station on fire!"' Pruitt said.

Authorities say the blaze was started by lightning. Much of the station's equipment was saved by surge protectors, Pruitt said.

"We fuss and fuss at people to get surge protectors and they do work," Pruitt said.

The original call turned out to be a limb on top of a power line -- not a fire.

"We're fortunate we got the fire call. If it hadn't been for that call, there is no telling what would have happened to the building," Pruitt said.

De Queen is a town of about 5,800 people in southwest Arkansas.

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