By JOSH NEWTON
PARADISE HILL —
Firefighters in this small Sequoyah County community were shocked Saturday when they discovered many tools they use to save lives had been stolen from their fire station.
West Tenkiller Fire Department Assistant Chief Keith Rowe said he showed up last Saturday at the Paradise Hill station, near Fin and Feather, and found the door had been pried open.
“I don’t even know what they were thinking when they broke into the fire department,” said Rowe. “They’re not just stealing from the fire department, but from the community and themselves. This is stuff that could be used to save their own lives some day.”
Rowe said the equipment stolen from the department is engraved with “WTFD.”
According to Rowe, the burglary occurred between Jan. 4 and 11. No suspects have been identified, but a report has been filed with the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office.
“They took two K-12 [fire and rescue] saws that we use for cutting holes in the metal roofs of houses for ventilation,” said Rowe. “It’s an emergency tool, and in fact, it says ‘fire/rescue’ on it.”
Also missing are Dewalt sawzalls, used for vehicle extrication; two halligan tools, used to force entry into homes; a toolbox of various tools; and other items. The thieves also took fuel from the fire trucks.
“They took about $4,500 worth of equipment all together,” said Rowe.
Rowe spent Monday visiting pawn shops in Cherokee, Muskogee and Sequoyah counties, but found none of the stolen equipment.
“But I’m very impressed with our local pawn shop owners; they were real receptive and willing to help in any way,” said Rowe.
“The theft won’t prevent us from doing our job, but it will slow us down. The stuff will get replaced eventually, but other departments need to know about it. I don’t want them to get victimized, too.”
West Tenkiller Fire Department responds to emergencies in both Sequoyah and Cherokee County, Rowe said. The department has three stations, including two at Tenkiller Harbor. Seventeen volunteers respond to emergencies with the department’s jurisdiction.
Anyone with information about the burglary is asked to call the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office at (918) 775-9155.