Fire Destroys Oologah-Talala Ambulance

Sunday, April 5th 2009, 3:44 pm
By: News On 6

CLAREMORE, OK -- A fire Sunday destroyed one ambulance, damaged a second ambulance and a command vehicle and closed Station 2 and the administrative headquarters of the Oologah-Talala Emergency Medical Services District.

The fire was discovered at 12:22 a.m. Damage was limited to the bay where EMS Unit 11 and the district's command vehicle were housed.

The entire 5,000 square foot facility suffered smoke damage, as did EMS Unit 21, which was in the maintenance bay at the far end of the building from the fire.

That leaves the district with two ambulances available for service, enough to cover a routine day shift, but crews say with no margin for equipment breakdowns or major incidents requiring additional emergency response.

OTEMS maintenance chief Justin Woodworth will fly to Dallas Monday to pick up a leased ambulance to fill part of the void while Unit 11 is replaced and Unit 21 is cleaned, decontaminated, inspected and returned to service.

Crews say the fire broke out in the engine compartment of Unit 11, and the intense heat melted some other equipment in the bay. However, it also ruptured an active water pipe, which doused the flames and confined the fire.

The flames were out when Northwest Rogers County firefighters arrived. The fire-damaged area was sealed until insurance investigators could examine the scene. TRC disaster solutions began cleanup work in the rest of the structure late Sunday morning.

Officials said it appears all financial and related records are useable, although the finance office did suffer heavy smoke damage.

During a 20-minute emergency meeting Sunday, the district's board authorized all measures needed to repair damage, replace equipment and otherwise get the district back in full, normal operating status.

However, they stressed dispatch operations were not affected by the fire, and patrons in the district will be able to get ambulance service if they need it by calling 911.

Insurance covers all damage repairs and remediation services, said board member Bob Sweet. Damage will be in six figures, but no detailed estimate is available.

"It was bad, but it could have been much worse," Sweet said.