ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. --
A blaring horn from emergency crews outside the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department warned firefighters inside to get out as flames began to rip through the building.
The roof collapsed and walls buckled as the building, Fire Station No. 60, burned early Monday morning.
One firefighter didn't make it out, but he dove into a corner avoiding the worst part of the collapse. He was pulled from the building around 5:15 a.m. and was not seriously injured.
Emergency Management Director Frank Thomason says that dive probably saved his life.
"He apparently heard the structure beginning to collapse and he was running to get out of the building," Thomason said. "He's very fortunate. We're just glad he's out."
Investigators say the fire started just before 4:30 a.m. near the kitchen then quickly spread to the truck bays off Bringle Ferry Road near High Rock Lake. Crews had just enough time to get four of the five fire trucks out, but they had no chance to save the building.
Darrell Connor is a neighbor who heard the fire station alarm and called the emergency operations center.
"The siren was going off. I called EOC to see what the problem was. They said they hadn't set the siren off so I came out here -- it was a basketball-size flame under the gable so I called 911," he said.
Connor says a lot of history burned to the ground.
"I was raised here. There's wood from a farm down the road that was in that fire department, so it's not real easy to take," he said.
Thomason says several firefighters were at the station just before the flames erupted, but investigators have not determined what caused the blaze.
Bringle Ferry Road at Clark Road is still shut down. Check our traffic page for updated information.