A June 17 fire at a Golder Ranch Fire District SaddleBrooke station is believed to have started in the vehicle bay, which would explain "why the smoke detectors didn't go off," Fire Chief John Fink said Monday.
The two-alarm fire, which started around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday at SaddleBrooke's original fire station, located at 63735 E. SaddleBrooke Blvd., was originally believed to have begun in the communications room.
Capt. Antonio Benjamin was on duty and sleeping in a nearby room when he was awakened by the sound of crackling and popping, Fink said. Benjamin looked into the vehicle bay through a window in the communications room, where he saw the fire.
"It seems to be electrical in nature," Fink said. "We were thinking it started in the communications room and spread to the bay. And what we are finding out it was just the opposite. It started in the bay and spread to the communications room."
Fink said before the firefighters could move an ambulance and an engine from the bay, the fire slightly damaged lights, paint and hoses on the vehicles. Five other Golder Ranch fire stations responded to the blaze. The fire was contained and under control in about 30 minutes, and there were no injuries.
"We are still going through the investigation side of it," said John Sullivan, the district's community services division chief. "Obviously, this is something that is not a typical occurrence, neither for the fire service nor the community. We were trying, with due diligence, to prevent this from happening in the past.
"We can't speak enough to the warm gestures that the SaddleBrooke community has extended our way," Sullivan said.
SaddleBrooke founder Ed Robson has offered the department three furnished, nearby two-bedroom villas for the firefighters free of charge for as long as they need. It may be several months before the fire station is restored and of use, Fink said.
"The community has been wonderful," Fink said. "They have just been reaching out and been tremendous."
Fink said Golder Ranch service levels and response times "didn't skip a beat" after the blaze, which destroyed the fire station's communications room and its equipment, along with personal items, fire department files, training materials, hoses, protective clothing and other items.
Fink said it appears the building is still structurally sound. It must be gutted and restored at an estimated cost of $500,000.
Fire station was getting sprinklers
Golder Ranch Fire District was preparing to retrofit SaddleBrooke's original fire station with a sprinkler system when the station caught fire June 17, heavily damaging its communications center, equipment bays and equipment.
The district received an Assistance to Fire Fighters Grant through a program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for $201,453, said John Sullivan, the district's community services division chief.
Of that total, $56,000 was allocated to retrofit SaddleBrooke's original station and the Sun City Vistoso station with sprinkler systems.
"My other station will be moving forward on that," said Fire Chief John Fink. "We have already gone out to bid, so the other station should be retrofitted here hopefully in the next 30 days or so."
Fink said because SaddleBrooke's original fire station was built in 1990, a sprinkler system was not required. Sprinkling is now a requirement for all newly constructed fire stations, he said.
Wednesday morning's fire caused extensive damage to the communications center and other rooms in the SaddleBrooke Boulevard fire station. Vehicles were damaged as well. Fink has estimated total damage near $500,000. He expects the fire station to undergo repair for the next three to five months.