Silver City volunteer firefighter set up fund to replace lost fire engine |

Silver City volunteer firefighter set up fund to replace lost fire engine

Karl Horeis, Appeal staff writer

The Silver City Volunteer Fire Department has started a fund to replace the engine they lost in the American Ravine fire.

“It was a great truck,” said firefighter Rachel Toll. “State of the art.”

Engine 34, with an estimated value of $280,000, was a 1999 Pierce heavy-brush truck that could also fight structure fires.

The engine and its crew responded on July 26 to a report of a fire near American Flats, less than a mile from Silver City. A short time after the crew arrived, the engine boss decided to back away from the area. The truck went off the eroded, narrow road and high centered. As the blaze approached, the crew abandoned the truck and escaped.

Investigators have arrested three teenage boys, alleging they started the fire with a cigarette lighter.

Losing the truck was bad, but not as bad as losing the crew would have been.

“We were just really grateful that (the crew) came out of the canyon,” said Toll, also the chairwoman of the Silver City Advisory Board. “There was no concern at that point about the truck.”

But now that the ash has settled, the department needs to get its protection equipment back up to par, she said.

“We don’t have the brush capabilities we used to have,” Toll said.

The department is using its truck from the mid-1980s and a loaner from Central Lyon County. The ’80s truck only holds three people and doesn’t do very well off-road, Toll said.

Engine 34 was insured for its purchase price, but that won’t cover the cost of a new truck.

“We bought it used as a demo truck. That’s why we got such a good deal on it,” Toll said.

The remains of Engine 34 were left on a slope in American Ravine, where a national team of investigators examined the site.

An account has been opened for donations to help replace the ruined truck.

The American Ravine fire, which burned 30 acres over two days, blackened parts of Storey and Lyon counties. Each of the teens — whose names were not released because they are juveniles — is charged with one count of third-degree arson in each county.

The Silver City Fire Department has been an all-volunteer crew since the mid 1860s, according to a department release.

“We do it because we are an isolated community in the mountains where there are lots of pi-ons and lots of wildland fire potential,” Toll said. “We all know that if we don’t do it nobody will.”

You Can Help

To help the Silver City Volunteer Fire Department pay for the $280,000 fire engine it lost, make donations to Bank of America account No. 0049-6594-1378.