Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

September 13, 2013

Blaine fire damages volunteer department

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

BLAINE — A small Lawrence County community’s fire station was heavily damaged by a blaze Thursday morning.

The fire was discovered about 6:15 a.m. at the Blaine Volunteer Fire Department on Ky. 201. Chief Butch Smith said he discovered the blaze after he went to the station to investigate a report of a water leak made by a passing motorist.

Three of the department’s five vehicles — a pumper and two engines — were parked inside the firehouse and sustained heavy damage. Smith said he wasn’t sure whether the vehicles could be salvaged.

Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency Director Harold Slone speculated the trucks would probably have to be scrapped because of their ages.

“It would probably cost more to fix them than what they’re worth,” he said.

A mini-pumper and a rescue truck that are kept at a site about a mile from the station were not damaged. The mini-pumper, the first vehicle purchased by the department after it was chartered in the mid-1970s, was used to fight the fire, Smith said.

Firefighting equipment stored inside the metal structure also was damaged.

Smith said his department — which he said covers one of the largest geographical areas of any fire brigade in Lawrence County — would continue to provide the community with fire protection using its remaining fleet. He said the department also had a mutual aid agreement with the Webbville Volunteer Fire Department and could call on other departments for assistance if it needed to.

“If we have a fire out here, we’ll get help,” he said.

Firefighters from the Louisa, Red Bush and Hitchins fire departments helped battle the blaze at the fire station.

The cause of the blaze had not been determined. A detective from the Ashland post of the Kentucky State Police was at the scene Thursday conducting an investigation and Slone said the state Fire Marshal’s Office had been summoned as well.

There were unconfirmed reports the lock on the building had been broken. Smith said he couldn’t comment on that. He also declined to characterize the blaze as suspicious.

Raymond Osborne of Blaine, who served with the fire department for 23 years before health issues forced him to step down, said he was shocked when he heard about the blaze on his police scanner.

“I worked hard to help build this department up. Now it’s all gone,” he said. “This is about all we have here in Blaine.”

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.