A small western Iowa town has lost its fire station — to a fire. The fire broke out late last night in a vacant building beside the Manilla Fire Department, according to Lynn Gaskell, the fire chief in the nearby town of Irwin.

A couple of firefighters happened by around 10:30 P.M. and saw the flames coming from the building next door. They went into the fire station right away and pulled out the fire trucks and ambulances while the dispatchers started calling fire stations in other towns in the vicinity for help. At least seven other towns sent crews.

Gaskell says the fire had too much of a head start to save much. An old blacksmith shop that housed a variety of antiques was gutted, as was the vacant building, which had been a residence. Both are “totally gone,” according to Gaskell, and he says the fire station will likely need to be replaced, too.

The fire station was a steel building and its beams are all warped as there was fire inside. Gaskell calls it “a total loss.” A few vehicles were saved but much of the equipment inside was lost, everything from radios and air compressors to washing machines.

An investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s office is in Manilla assessing the damage and looking into the cause.

By Joel McCall, KNOD, Harlan