An arsonist kicked in a door and started a fire at the Smith Valley Fire Department’s station along Foys Lake Road over the weekend, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, according to Chief DC Haas.
Two vehicles and scores of equipment were destroyed in the fire that took place sometime late Saturday or early Sunday. Haas said the fire would have an impact on his department and others in the valley.
The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the fire.
According to Haas, his firefighters were responding to a vehicle crash early Sunday morning. When the firefighters arrived at the fire hall along Foys Lake Road they discovered that the backdoor had been broken in and a fire set inside.
Haas said the fire burned itself out because there wasn’t enough oxygen inside for it to continue. A Ford F350 rescue truck and an engine were lost in the blaze, as well as thousands of dollars worth of equipment. The building itself was also damaged but Haas said it could be repaired. A claims adjuster would be assessing the damage this week.
Haas and others from the department were starting to clean up the fire hall on July 5. The chief said he was hopeful the department could replace the equipment and reopen the fire hall as soon as possible.
The Smith Valley Fire Department serves the area west of Kalispell. It has two firehouses, one along U.S. Highway 2 and a secondary location along Foys Lake Road.
With Smith Valley’s secondary firehouse out of commission, Haas said his department’s resources will be stretched thin in the coming weeks and that will have an impact on other departments in the area. With warm weather raising fears about wildfires, Haas said the firehouse blaze could not have come at a worse time.
“You take this equipment out of the system and that impacts every department in the Flathead Valley,” he said. “It’s challenging… We’re going to have to rely on other departments a lot more in the coming days.”
Flathead Crimestoppers is offering an award to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest in the case. For more information, visit www.flatheadcrimestoppers.com or call 406-752-8477.
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