Pennsylvania Fire Company Victim of Arson

June 10, 2008
Fire early Tuesday morning wrecked a building at the Vandling Volunteer Fire Company in Lackawanna County.

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LACKAWANNA COUNTY, Penn. -- They were firefighters and fire victims at the same time. Fire early Tuesday morning wrecked a building at the Vandling Volunteer Fire Company in Lackawanna County.

A state police fire marshal rules it is a case of arson.

There's not much left of the pavilion building at the Vandling Volunteer Fire Company along Clinton Street. It was destruction from one end to the other.

Fire chief Mark Hollis said the building is covered by insurance, but the fire took away things that cannot be replaced, including a hose cart. It's more than 110 years old and it was the first piece of equipment owned by the fire company.

"Honestly, I want to cry when I look at it. Every time I look over there, that's something that's part of our history. You can never ever get that back again," Chief Hollis said.

The fire also destroyed contemporary fire equipment, like the reels of hose that were stored there.

The pavilion building was the site of things like chicken barbecues and events that raise the money to keep the fire company going.

The fire started around 1:30 a.m. A man living across the street spotted the flames.

"My wife said, 'I think it's raining.' I got up and said, 'Muffin, it's not raining. It's burning,'" said neighbor Butch Tedesco.

He called 911, but it was too late.

Chief Hollis said he lives only two blocks away and the building was burning from end to end when he got there.

While the fire hurt the fundraising capabilities, it didn't hurt the fire fighting capabilities. The building that houses the trucks just has a little heat damage.

Chief Hollis is thankful the damage wasn't worse.

"The engine is still fine. Our support truck is fine. It's not going to interrupt our service," Hollis added.

He said they have a good working relationship with fire companies in near by towns.

He hopes at least part of the pavilion can rebuilt before a scheduled fundraising barbecue in September, one of the most important fundraisers of the year.

"We'll rebuild it, and hopefully we'll be back better than ever," the chief vowed.

Republished with permission of WNEP-TV.

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