Nevada Fire Station Burns

CALNEVARI, Nev. -- "Dispatch, we have a problem here," were the words of Jack McClintock arriving at his burning fire station Monday evening about 6:30 p.m. in the southeastern corner of Nevada on U.S. Highway 95, near the Nevada-California state line.

Chief of the volunteer department for 12 years, McClintock had no equipment to fight the fire that damaged or destroyed four piece of rolling equipment and at least two-thirds of the community-built station.

"The smoke was so low and heavy that we couldn't get in. If we'd had one air pack outside the hall we could have rescued the equipment," McClintock said.

Tuesday, community neighbors dropped by to see the damage at the station, built in three stages through community efforts.

"Booze, beer and barbecue built this station. Some of the best barbecue in the state came from that pit over there. We had a lot of fund raisers over the years. This was a community station," said McClintock as the process of cleaning up the mess continued Tuesday morning. "We built most of the station by hand. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into that structure."

The station which was deeded over to Clark County about "five or six" years ago was a community meeting place and included a meeting room with a small stage for a band or entertainment and a large meeting room area. Tables and chairs stacked in a back storage room were visible through the blackened doorways. Strings of hardened melted foam insulation hung in some of the doorway openings.

"The facility was here for everyone to use when needed and it was used often," said a one of the volunteers who surveyed the remains.

"We're not sure how much of the equipment can be repaired. It was all hauled out to Las Vegas this morning for evaluation," said Steve McClintock, rural coordinator for the Clark County Fire Department.

"We sent four pieces of equipment to Vegas; a squad, engine, tender and ambulance. I believe two of them will be lost completely, probably the ambulance and the tender," said the rural fire service coordinator.

Steve McClintock oversees 13 volunteer stations and more than 400 volunteer fire fighters for the Clark County Fire Department.

The fire was believed to have started at or near an electrical supply box in a storage room on the interior section of the three part structure.

"We believe it was electrical. It worked up and into the attic from there and moved across the building," Steve McClintock said.

Volunteers at the scene said the damage inside the attic area was extensive. One stated that a few pebbles thrown on the roof might collapse the normal appearing gray roof structure. Old glory still waved in the breeze over the center of the station with only a few darkened edges flapping in the wind.

An estimate of the damage to the structure and the equipment could not be made until the rolling stock and structure were evaluated, according to Steve McClintock. It was reported by the Bob Lieinbach, Clark County public information officer, that the engine, the primary firefighting vehicle, was probably repairable.

"We're hoping that Clark County's insurance covers this," Chief McClintock said.

Fighting the fire was impossible for a while for arriving volunteers. "All we had here at the station was two garden hoses, and the water pressure is not much," Chief McClintock said.

Firefighters were unable to get water on the fire until an engine from Searchlight arrived. Equipment and personnel from Searchlight and from Laughlin were used to extinguish the fire. Other equipment dispatched from the Henderson and Boulder City area was turned around en route to the remote area.

Service from the station is now being provided by a rescue squad and engine from the Las Vegas area.

"We moved up equipment and crews from Las Vegas to provide service in the area," Steve McClintock said. "The equipment is fully manned."

The Calnevari Volunteer Fire Department, equipment and personnel get irregular but heavy use on the highway, approximately 100 calls, to Las Vegas working many injury accidents and vehicle fires and serving the small remote rural community.