Shed fire in Western draws volunteers from banquet in their honor
WESTERN — The Western Volunteer Fire Department doused a garage fire on Saturday — within minutes of when they were supposed to start a community dinner and department banquet marking the one-year anniversary of a devastating tornado, according to fire department officials.
No one was injured in the fire.
“It was a pretty hectic evening,” described Western Fire Chief Michael Anania about Saturday. “I think the tornado is a jinx.”
On July 9, 2021, a heavy storm turned into a category EF1 tornado, with winds of more than 100 mph. The tornado ripped through the Town of Western, destroying homes and uprooting trees along Route 46 and Main Street.
The town and the fire department came together Saturday evening for a remembrance dinner, with cocktails scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
At about 4:10 p.m., Chief Anania said the alarm was raised for a garage fire at 9674 River Road, near Quaker Hill Road. Anania said he was getting dressed for the dinner when he and many of his firefighter had to change and don their firefighting gear instead.
The volunteers responded to the garage fire, which was located about 30-feet from the main residence. The chief said the garage was fully involved on arrival, along with a nearby vehicle. Crews battled through high temperatures and humidity to knock down the fire in about an hour.
The firefight was hampered when the garage, heavily damaged by fire, collapsed in on itself within seconds of firefighters arriving on the scene, officials said. The garage had both gasoline and propane inside, the chief said, so crews were careful during the fight.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Anania stated.
Volunteers from Lee Center and Lake Delta responded to assist, and the chief said several of their members offered to handle overhaul operations so that the Western firefighters could attend the dinner. Officials said several Western firefighters stayed, while others went on to the celebration.
“It was a nice dinner. It had a nice attendance. Everybody told some stories,” Anania said of the dinner, which also served as the department’s annual banquet.
“We all kind of put the tornado behind us, and we’re all moving forward,” the chief stated.
Anania added that there were several medical calls that were dispatched during the dinner, so firefighters kept coming and going from their own banquet.
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