Ilwaco Fire Department Burns to the Ground

Ilwaco, Wash. -
Fire destroyed the Ilwaco Volunteer Fire Department building Thursday night, along with just about everything inside.

No one knows for sure how the fire started, but Chief Tom Williams said he suspects it was an electrical fire in the old building's wiring that sparked the blaze and set off the fire alarm.

The building was built in 1947, and an addition was constructed in the 1980s. Besides the fire department, it also housed the Red Cross office, a meeting hall and the Ilwaco City Council chambers.

It is a total loss, Williams said, estimating the loss at about $2 million. He said the fire department building was insured by the city of Ilwaco.No one was in the building when the alarm went off about 11:06 p.m., Williams said. He was alerted by Pacific County Dispatch and immediately called for mutual aid from the Chinook, Long Beach and Fire District 1 fire departments.

In the meantime, a couple of firefighters who live nearby were able to get one fire engine and one brush truck out. Two other fire engines, a Seagraves and a Ford La France, were destroyed, along with an ambulance, a mobile cascade system in the bed of a four-wheel drive truck and all of the fire department's turn-out gear and self-contained breathing apparatus equipment. Even the little robotic truck used in parades and for fire education burned, Chief Williams said. "Most of our stuff is replaceable, except for the antique truck," Williams said sadly, "and all the old pictures are gone." The files containing the history of the department also burned, he said, but luckily the original hand pumper had already been donated to the Ilwaco Heritage Museum.

However, it could have been worse, he said, if people had gotten hurt. That didn't happen. None of the firefighters who fought the blaze were injured. The fire was finally put out around 4 a.m. today. What's next? "We'll move the saved trucks to the city shops until we figure out what to do," Chief Williams said.
reprinted from Chinook Observer