Dec. 30--More than three months have passed since fire destroyed the home base of the Gordon Fire Department, and still it doesn't have money to rebuild.
"It's been a slow and frustrating process," said Ted Flamang, a supervisor with the Gordon Town Board.
Despite public approval to rebuild, insurance issues have led to delays, he said.
But the wait is coming to an end, with a design in the works and insurance money on the horizon. Three of the department's six firetrucks are on order for just under $800,000 and will arrive toward the end of February. The 20-member department has been using trucks lent from four other units since the Sept. 19 fire that destroyed the fire hall and everything inside of it.
"We couldn't save a doorknob," Flamang said.
The final damage estimate, including the building, trucks and other equipment, was put at roughly $2.5 million. The fire to the metal-sided 1979 building began in an office area, but officials said it was so extensive a cause was impossible to determine. The cost to rebuild will be more than $500,000, said Fire Chief Mike Chmielecki.
Officials hope to begin construction in late spring, with completion set for fall. The new fire hall would be set in the same place on Douglas County Highway Y. Gordon is about 35 miles south of Superior along U.S. Highway 53.
Borrowed trucks came from departments including Grantsburg, Wis., and neighboring Wascott. Flamang said the town is grateful for the support so firefighters could continue to answer calls.
But working with unfamiliar equipment and out of the town shops has been a challenge, Chmielecki said.
Firefighting equipment shares space with snowplowing equipment in tight quarters. Using trucks outfitted with different gear leads department members to think carefully about what's needed for each call.
"It's pretty tough, actually," Chmielecki said, and members look forward to February when they will again have trucks of their own.
Watching other departments do most of the work putting out the September fire was a "tough experience," he said, because "typically we are the ones helping."
About $100,000 has been raised for the department since the fire. A benefit dinner was held a week after the fire by the owners of the Gordon Buckhorn Bar. That dinner alone raised $24,000, said Kathy Rose, who owns the bar with her husband.
Fire departments and towns from across the country donated money and equipment, Flamang said, and the night of the benefit, "people showed up from towns I've never heard of."
The sheer amount of money caused "lots of tears," Rose said. "I love this community. People came out and gave and gave."
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