A Grays Harbor Fire District 1 fire station near Oakville was discovered burgled Tuesday morning.
Approximately $90,000 in gear was stolen from the station and vehicles staged there, according to Fire Chief Carlton Rhoades of Grays Harbor Fire District 1.
“Our entire annual budget is about $300,000 a year,” Rhoades said in a phone interview. “It is a major hit to us.”
The station has an ambulance, fire engine and tender according to Rhoades. The suspects had cut through the back of the building and rifled the vehicles, stealing equipment such as defibrillators, chainsaws, radios, generators and Jaws of Life, Rhoades said. All of the equipment is marked or stenciled with the district’s designator, GHFD1.
“We have what’s called an inventory control tag,” Rhoades said. “They’re metal plates with our name and the inventory number.”
Anyone who sees fire equipment in the possession of someone suspicious should call the sheriff’s office at 360-533-8765, said Undersheriff Brad Johansson.
“It’s all equipment that if people see it, they’ll associate it with the fire department,” Rhoades said.
A robbery of one of the stations has not happened in living memory of any current employee, Rhoades said, adding the regularly unmanned status of the station and its location away from more populated areas played a factor in the suspects choosing to burgle it.
“It’s an unmanned station,” Rhoades said. “It’s a very rural part of town.”
The tender and ambulance are back in service, Rhoades said, with the fire engine still in refit from the damage done to it by the suspects. It will be back in commission in several days, Rhoades said.
“In my career, this is the fifth time this has happened,” Johansson. “They stole defibrillators, what are they going to use those for?”
If you see something or someone suspicious in possession of gear possibly belonging to the fire department, Johansson asked residents to contact the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office at 360-533-8765.