The fire truck that went off the road and crashed while its operators were responding to a fire in the Gaskiers during a severe winter storm in March has been repaired and even repainted and is being readied to go back into service.
“It was a pretty scary experience,” Riverhead Mayor Sheila Lee said of the accident.
The fire broke out around dawn on March 16 during the height of a storm. The lone man in the house managed to escape. Volunteers with the Riverhead Volunteer Fire Department had trouble reaching the scene because the highway was covered in thick, wet snow.
Some people in the area were concerned that equipment from the Department of Transportation had not been out to clear the road that morning. But Lee said it was during the eye of the storm and it would have been pointless for maintenance crews to try clearing the road before the wind and snow subsided.
“We’re so blessed that it wasn’t a big tragedy,” Lee said of the crash involving the fire truck. “The weather was so bad and visibility was zero. If that truck had gone off in another place, like over a bank, people could have been killed.”
There were two firefighters aboard the truck when it went off the road. Some 14 volunteer firefighters answered the call. One of the them, who happened to have a plow on his pickup, tried to clear a path for the fire truck. “Talk about going beyond the call of duty,” Lee said. “I never saw such devotion as these firemen have.”
Lee reckoned the truck is about 15 years old but was well maintained and in very good shape before the accident. “It’s going to be as good as new,” she said. “There is going to be a $5,000 deductible. Thank God that we got it resolved to have that household fee to have a bit of fund there for things like this that come up.”
Lee wasn’t certain of the size of the repair bill. “I think it’s $20,000 or more,” she estimated. “With the (insurance) policy we have, the first $5,000 is a deductible.”