Firefighters near and far are donating equipment after an overnight fire leveled the Twin Lakes Volunteer Fire Department.
Fire Chief Mike Gilliam and the rest of his volunteer department were on scene within 30 seconds of the call.
“When you call and you say, ‘Our station is on fire,’ it’s like, ‘Is that a mistake?’” Gilliam said.
With their equipment inside the building, there was little the firefighters could do.
“I had to keep on them to keep them out. They were wanting to fight the fire,” Gilliam said. “They were trying to save their house, but we couldn’t do it.”
Brittnie Coventon lives nearby and heard the commotion.
“All of a sudden we thought we heard a gunshot,” Coventon said. “We were like, ‘What’s going on?’ Then we heard another gunshot.”
Coventon then scrambled out the door to see what was happening.
“We were walking out the door and there was a big boom,” Coventon said.
Gilliam's assistant chief, Duane Dahlem, discovered the fire.
While attempting to save equipment, Dahlem suffered minor burns and then had a heart attack.
“He’s doing OK,” Gilliam said. “He’s wanting to be out. He wants to be here and he can’t. He’s going to have a triple bypass tomorrow and we’re asking for prayers.”
After losing an estimated $1 million in equipment, help is pouring in from fire departments around the country.
“We’re all a family and whenever someone from Maryland calls and says, ‘Hey, we’ll send you fire hose and bunker gear,’ it’s just impressive to know we have that support nationwide,” Oklahoma State Firefighters Association administrative director Sheri Nickel said.
“We will rebuild. It’s just going to take some work,” Gilliam said.
Twin Lakes said it can still handle medical calls. Thanks to donations, it will soon have water.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up.