Fire destroys Lake Norden fire department and emergency vehicles

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 6:13 PM CDT
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LAKE NORDEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Lake Norden emergency building is being deemed a total loss.

The emergency call came in around 5:30 a.m. Hamlin County Sheriff’s Office and first responders from Bryant were the first on the scene. Agencies from Castlewood, Hayti and Estelline quickly followed.

When crews arrived, flames were overcoming the Lake Norden emergency building, but they managed to get the fire under control by 8 a.m. No other surrounding buildings were damaged by the fire.

However, the damage to the Lake Norden fire department was significant. Not only is the building destroyed, but four fire trucks and two ambulances were deemed a total loss as well. Crews managed to save one truck.

”Unfortunately, with the pole-style building that it is, it doesn’t take a whole lot of fire to make the building a total loss,” said Lake Norden Chief of Police Tony Aas.

All equipment inside the building was lost as well.

“Well, it’s always tough when the fire is at the fire department and all the equipment is lost in the building. All the bunker gear, all the life-saving stuff that they have in there was in the building at the time. So, that’s going to be a big hit,” said Aas.

Aas said Ron Hines, a board member of the South Dakota Firefighters Association, has volunteered to handle the logistics of arranging a fire district in Lake Norden for surrounding emergency agencies to help cover.

As for the ambulances, it didn’t take long for calls to come in from near and far offering to help.

”The outpouring was phenomenal. We had calls from as far away as Kansas wanting to bring an ambulance up,” said Aas.

The problem was finding somewhere to keep an ambulance. Aas said the city maintenance building was cleared to make space for two, and a replacement ambulance has been lined up.

“Right now, we do have ambulance coverage. We’re not going to lose that. The area ambulances have all agreed to kind of take over the area for the time being. We expect by tomorrow morning, tomorrow afternoon, that Lake Norden’s ambulance will be up and going again with our own personnel,” said Aas.

Other emergency agencies weren’t the only ones to offer help.

“The community has been great. We have a couple coffee shops, they’ve said if you wanted coffee, go up there. First responders are eating for free at The Bullpen. I mean, they’re taking care of us, which they always do,” said Aas.

Stefanie Pouliot, the manager of The Bullpen Restaurant, said offering help in a time of crisis is just how small towns works.

”People really care about each other here. The building is a building. It was really more, are we going to get these first responders food and water and make sure everyone is taken care of?” said Pouliot.

No one was inside the building and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.