Posted December 9, 2013 EST
Avant Fire Departments Prized Truck Stolen
Residents in a rural Oklahoma town must now wait longer for firefighters to arrive at their call. Early Wednesday morning, vandals torched the Avant Volunteer Fire Departments go-to truck. The Ford F-350 was parked inside the station. Volunteer Fire Chief Gene Atkins said the vandals dumped it about three miles away in a secluded field. Then set it on fire around 6:45 Wednesday morning. Atkins said thieves also stole money, all the medical supplies, and broke into the office where a urine-like liquid still soaks the desk. Chief Atkins said the thieves came in through the ceiling with a crow bar left behind. "I hope you had a good time, I really do," Gene Atkins, the volunteer fire chief of Avant said, addressing the thieves. "It may be your family that needs us and we can't get there quick enough." Said Avant Mayor Justin Brown: "The time they've spent, the effort to get what they have, for it to be taken senselessly -- I'll be here. We will fight for them and with them." Atkins said what upsets him the most about the break-in is the amount of effort it took to bring the fire truck into the town's inventory. The former fire chief campaigned for years for the truck, said Atkins, eventually succeeding in 2008, only months before he died. The department has other trucks, but firefighters stress that those take longer to arrive at a call. This is the fifth time in three years someone broke into the volunteer station. Avant firefighters now search for grants to replace the truck. The department is out $120,000.
Written and photos by Assistant Fire Chief