The Twin Lakes Volunteer Fire Department is still recovering from the devastating fire last week but those around the department said they have a lot to be thankful for.
Family and friends welcomed assistant fire chief Duane Dahlem back home after spending a week in the hospital due to chest pain.
“Everybody out here has each other’s back,” Dahlem said. “It’s always been that way. It’s just a godsend that we found a place like this.”
Assistant fire chief Dahlem was the first person to see the flames a week ago. He attempted to get one of their trucks out, but he said things got too hot too quick. Despite the fire destroying the entire station, Dahlem’s wife called it a blessing in disguise.
“The doctors did say, ‘If he wouldn’t have come that night, maybe in just a couple of days, he would’ve had a massive heart attack,’” Lori Dahlem, Duane’s wife, said.
Dahlem underwent a quadruple bypass this past week.
“I had one vein that was totally clogged, two arteries that were 95 percent and another vein that was 75 percent,” Dahlem said.
While Dahlem was in the hospital, his fellow firefighters were working on getting back in service after losing all of their equipment.
“We've got quite a bit of bunking gear, quite a bit of wildland gear, boots, hats, gloves, of course,” Twin Lakes Volunteer fire chief Mike Gilliam said. “We got the two trucks from Arlington and Covington and we're going to do a little training today, so at least we will have a response and be able to hold off something until we can get some help here from Crescent.”
Gilliam said the Oklahoma Firefighters Association is helping them get back on their feet. The department is currently working with its insurance companies to see what can be covered by the fire.
“We've got our fire department back together now,” Gilliam said. “We're ready to respond.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up, which you can find here.