It was tough for the New Galilee Fire Department to lose its station and equipment last week. Now, members are struggling to deal with the knowledge that the blaze was deliberately set.
Chief Jim Mitchell believes the blaze may have been set to cover up a burglary. "We had security cameras set up throughout the fire house. I think the person saw them, and set the fire because they knew they were on tape."
The Pennsylvania fire department was equipped with cameras last fall following the armed robbery of the treasurer. "She was on her way home with the bingo money when she was approached by a person with a gun," the chief said. "The robber didn't say anything. He just pointed to the money bag."
Following the robbery, Mitchell said the company installed a safe and the cameras. The fire marshal's office hasn't said if the safe survived the horrific blaze or if it had been opened.
While the probe continues to find the responsible party, Mitchell said he's been busy trying to get his department up and running.
"The President Township (Pa.) has donated a 1979 Ford 1,000 GPM pumper for us to use for as long as we want. It's still in operating condition, and that's what counts. It was very generous of them."
Now, they are looking for a place to house the equipment.
Mitchell said he's also heading to New Jersey soon to check out a 1983 Pierce Dash being offered by a fire department there. So far, no one has called to donate a tanker.
Nearby companies are handling calls in New Galilee's area until the all-volunteer fire department is back on its feet. A squad truck equipped with a few tools was housed in a separate building, and escaped damage.
Plans to re-build are still up in the air as fire officials continue to meet with insurance agents.
"It's been a busy time here," he said. "We appreciate the support."