While the Linn-San Manuel firefighting department was celebrating at their holiday party on Saturday, they received an emergency 911 call. Unfortunately, they had to run home: Their own station was on fire.
The Monitor of Rio Grande Valley reported that with most of the firefighters about 19 miles away at their celebration in the town of Edinburg, the south Texas 60-year-old all-volunteer fire department was destroyed. Firefighters from other local departments rushed to the scene, but were unable to stem the flames. Only one tanker and two brush trucks that were at the party survived the blaze.
Linn-San Manuel Fire Chief Domingo Hinojosa Jr. said to CBS affiliate KGBT in Harlingen, Texas that his crew was going through an emotional time. "We felt helpless, you know, not being able to put out our own fire, being that we lost everything that we need and we had," Hinojosa said.
Elia Garza Vicencio, who has volunteered at the branch for 27 years, was devastated, but sees the experience as a hurdle the department will just have to face. "We'll keep on going," Garza Vicencio said to KGBT. "We're going to keep on moving forward, and maybe stronger and more united - it's brought the department a lot more united."
Hinojosa Jr. told The Monitor that the all-volunteer fire department is staying resolute in their mission to take care of the community. He added to KGBT that plans for a new fire station are in the works.
Other Rio Grande Valley fire departments are lending equipment, while the people who own the land where the firehouse used to be are letting the firefighters use a nearby shed and old convenience store in the meantime, according to The Monigtor. Hinojosa Jr. added that the department does have some money saved up to buy new equipment, but will have to fundraise to pay for the rest.
Authorities from the Hidalgo County Fire Department are investigating the cause of the fire.