Volunteer fire department loses station to fire

TRINITY, TX The blaze broke out just early Sunday at the 356 Volunteer Fire Department near Onalaska at the Trinity-Polk county line.

Other fire departments responded to the fire, but it was too late to save the equipment.

Chief Jessie Baker said flames destroyed their station, a tanker and three of their trucks.

To make matters worse, the station is uninsured. The only insurance they had was liability on the trucks, officials said.

To add to that, their budget has been depleted because of the massive wildfire that erupted last month in their area. 356 Fire Department spent over a week battling the fire with extensive fuel costs

Unlike departments in other counties that are funded by tax dollars, 356 Volunteer Fire Department is funded by donations. There are no paid staff members, and much of the equipment is obtained as hand-me-downs from other departments.

Onalaska and Caney Creek Fire Departments have each made one of their trucks available to the 356 volunteers. They still need new protective gear, self-contained breathing apparatuses, fire hoses, fire trucks and other equipment -- plus a new building.

"We're basically starting from ground zero to rebuild," Baker said.

Firefighters do not know what started the blaze. They suspect it may have been ignited by a faulty electrical switch on their brush truck. It remains under investigation.

Anyone wishing to help the 356 volunteers can mail donations to: 356 Volunteer Fire Department, 12427 F.M. 356, Trinity, TX 75862. You can also contact Chief Baker at 936-662-2964.

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