Mold Forces Calif. Crews From Station

ESCONDIDO, Calif. --

A company of North County firefighters have been chased out of their station due to a "silent menace."

Escondido fire engineer Chris Arnold knew something was wrong. When he'd go to work, he would come down with a cold that wouldn't go away.

Arnold said when he was home for several days, the symptoms would clear up.

"I assumed something was going on. I didn't know if it was allergies in the park, tree pollen or whatever," said Arnold.

Inspections showed Escondido Fire Department's Fire station 4, where Arnold worked, was full of mold. The firefighters moved out in early May and relocated to Fire Station 5, miles away off of Felicita Road and Interstate 15.

The move greatly increased response times for Company 4, so Escondido Fire Chief Mike Lowry came up with a plan to move Fire Station 4's equipment and personnel to the Aegis Senior Living Retirement Community just up the street from the fire station.

When Aegis Executive Director Sondra Brakeville got the call, she was thrilled.

"We feel it's an honor just to have them here. We just want to help out the community and we're just happy to have them, happy to help out," said Brakeville.

The firefighters will be moving into a casita, a 1,200-square-foot stand-alone structure that features two bedrooms and two full baths. The firefighters will have access to a pool, Jacuzzi, fire pit and workout room. They will also have enough space to park one of their fire engines inside the complex.

Brakeville said the residents at Aegis are thrilled to have the firefighters moving in.

"They're such great guys. They always take the time to visit with the residents and they're really excited to have them around," said Brakeville.

The firefighters are scheduled to move in shortly after July 1.

Aegis is charging the city less than half the usual rent -- $2,250 instead of $5,000 a month.

The city will need the savings because at the very least, it will cost $300,000 to fix Fire Station 4.

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