HOWARD COUNTY, Ind.-- The Howard County Emergency Management Agency's building on South Berkley Road was fully engulfed in a fire Sunday evening that many officials are fearing will be a total loss.
The building, located between the Howard County Criminal Justice Center and the Robert J. Kinsey Youth Center, houses the EMA's fire and police equipment, among other items.
With the fire still burning at 10:45 p.m., officials at the scene don't know what sparked the blaze. The cause was still unknown at Tribune press time.
Smoke was noticed shortly after 9 p.m. by an EMA officer driving along Berkley Road, said EMA Sgt. E.Z. Zimmerman. By the time a second unit arrived minutes later, small flames were seen emerging from the roof. A few minutes later the fire department arrived to a structure nearly fully engulfed in flames.
Howard County Sheriff Marty Talbert agreed firefighters were met at the scene with an uphill battle.
"The fire had a good start before the fire department got there," he said.
On a fire scene plagued with difficulties, an aerial truck stationed at the back of the building was rendered useless as firefighters were forced to wait for the electricity to be shut off. The power was shut down around 10:30 p.m.
EMA director Larry Smith said they were able to retrieve a Mobile Command Unit and the city's bomb truck. Talbert added to the list of equipment saved a spare K-9 unit from his department.
Among the EMA's equipment left inside the burning building were three ambulances, two tankers, one grass fire truck, two engines, an air truck and a hazardous material unit, according to EMA deputy director Harold Eads.
The building also houses a mechanical area and related tools.
Around 10 p.m., as flames continued to show through the roof, Eads said he feared everything still inside would not be salvageable after the fire.
The county's insurance adjuster was on scene late Sunday and is expected to return this morning to begin determining damage.
Republished with permission of The Kokomo Tribune.