Fire Department's Roof Collapses in Vera

Sunday, December 3rd 2006, 4:27 pm
By: News On 6

Oklahoma’s record snowfall continues to cause problems for first responders in the Tulsa area. The Owens Fire Department in Vera is still cleaning up debris after heavy snow caused a portion of its roof to cave in.

News on 6 reporter Chris Wright says firefighters are having trouble finding enough money to rebuild.

The snow has begun to melt away in Vera, but the problems it created for the Owens Fire Department will remain long after it is gone. The ten inches of snow that fell on the department proved too much for the structure to handle. A portion of the roof, along with all that snow, caved in Friday afternoon.

"So to see something like this is even more heartbreaking, because to see something like this we know we have to start all over and rebuild our station," Chief Todd Owens said.

Firefighters say the collapse could have been worse. No one was injured, and the fire truck the snow landed on was not damaged. Still, the dozen volunteer firefighters that make up the rural department built the station themselves. Rebuilding won't be easy because the department spent most of its budget earlier this year fighting grass fires.

An all volunteer department, Owens doesn't get any taxpayer money to help it rebuild its garage; instead it will rely on donations and grants.

"My heart just sank, I knew money was tight with us, I didn't know any way we were going to be able to afford to repair this, when you're faced with a situation like this, you just don't know what to do first," Firefighter Darren Hyatt said.

The volunteer firefighters turned their attention to the cleanup Sunday. While they are not exactly sure how they will be able to afford a new roof, they say they are determined to rebuild.

"To come in and see what work is facing us, I think it's a little disheartening to some of them, but we've kept our chins up, we're gonna stay strong and we're going to get it done," said Owens.

The Owens Fire Department says the roof collapse has not stopped it from responding to weather related calls.

Anyone interested in donating to the department can find out more information at