It's been a busy year for a small group of volunteer firefighters. The McLoud Fire Department says they've seen a record jump the number of fires they battle, from 14 total last year to 40 this year.
McLoud has only three full-time firefighters, and that's including the fire chief. So whenever the department gets a call after hours or on the weekend, which they have a lot lately, they greatly depend on their volunteer firefighters.
The Garrison family's dream home in McLoud went up in flames around 7 a.m. on Thursday. Kody Garrison, a 17-year-old senior at McLoud High School says he was in the shower when heard people banging on the windows.
"This was one of the last things I expected. It's definitely shocking," Garrison said. "I got out, got dressed real quick and ran out, and I could see my garage was completely on fire."
Garrison thinks the hot water heater in the garage may've sparked the flames. No one was hurt, but the Garrison's new home is now a total loss.
"Pretty big blow, after planning it for all those years, and then to see it go down like this," Garrison said.
McLoud firefighters were first on scene at the home off Highway 177 along with Jacktown Firefighters from Meeker. This fire marks number 40 for the McLoud Fire Department, a huge spike from only 14 fires last year and 11 in 2011.
"Can't really put a finger on why we've seen the jump. And this is typically the time when we see a little spike in house fires, and we've already kind of seen that rise for the year," said Capt. Todd Beesley of the McLoud Fire Department.
"When you have a big increase in activity like that, it strains resources obviously, additional wear and tear on the vehicles and on our firefighters."
McLoud has 19 unpaid volunteer firefighters, who balance shifts with their fulltime jobs, which can pose a problem for response times. And with this year being their busiest yet, the fire chief is hoping the department will soon add more full-time firefighters.
"It's going to take some time. The revenues have to be there to do that. And McLoud's a small community, but that is something we're working towards," Beesley said.
In addition to fighting structure fires, McLoud fire volunteers still take on many medical calls and grass fires. Because of the recent fires, McLoud is in need of more volunteer firefighters who live close by and meet the requirements. If you'd like to volunteer, call (405) 964-4005.