The East Daviess County Fire station and department headquarters will be closed for the foreseeable future after a bolt of lightning struck the building Wednesday, causing a damaging fire.
Although no one was injured and the fire was contained to the attic of the living quarters of the station, the damage forced Daviess County Fire Chief Dwane Smeathers to temporarily close the East station and operate out of the Thruston-Philpot station on Reid Road.
Smeathers said firefighters from the Thruston-Philpot station will continue to operate out of their building alongside firefighters from the East station.
“We’re all one big family anyway, so it’s not any big problem,” he said. “If we have any hitches along the way, we will just work them out, just like a family would do.”
Smeathers estimates that the East station will be closed for at least two months, but maybe as long as six months, while the damage is addressed. A representative from Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo), the county’s insurance provider, will assess the damage Friday morning, Smeathers said. At that time, he said he will have a better estimate of how long the station will be closed.
In the meantime, Smeathers has had to address a laundry list of tasks associated with moving an entire fire station to a new location in less than 24 hours time.
Some of those tasks include moving all of the trucks and equipment to the new location, getting beds for the firefighters to sleep in and setting up the radio system.
Dispatch was also made aware of a few changes to responding stations given that the East station is moving 5 miles down the road.
“Any places that may be a delay in response, we are doing some maneuvering around,” Smeathers said.
Specifically, Smeathers said a few places in the Masonville area were switched to the Airport-Sorgho station.
Owensboro-Daviess County Dispatch 911 Director Paul Nave said he hasn’t encountered any issues since the transition.
“At this point, we’re sizing up the situation,” Nave said. “The fire chief will have very few emergency response zones that need adjustment.”
On Thursday, off-duty firefighters worked alongside crews from Disaster Team, which has been hired for clean up and remediation.
Smeathers said the station’s structure is still in good condition, though there are some weakened spots with heavy burn.
Firefighters have examined the building, including the roof, and have not been able to find where the lighting struck the building.
Smeathers said that the insurance company will use technology from the National Weather Service and radar from Wednesday’s storm to pinpoint within a few feet of where the lighting struck the station.
Daviess County opened the $900,000 station on KY-54 in 2004.