BROCKWELL, AR (KAIT) – The Izard County Sheriff's Department is looking for ax-wielding vandals, the culprits responsible for destroying equipment inside a local fire station.
According to Fire Chief Alan Estes, someone broke into the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department substation in Brockwell sometime late Saturday or early Sunday. Estes says vandals disabled half the department's fleet, hacking three trucks with an ax.
"The windshields are busted on all the trucks. The headlights are taken out. Tail lights are taken out. The tires are taken out," Estes explained." An ax was used on the hoods of the trucks."
Estes has spent the past week surveying the damage, and has no idea how much the equipment will cost to repair or replace.
Money, however, is not the only concern. He says the incident has crippled the volunteer fire department and its ability to respond to fires in its southern coverage area.
"Our (response) times are delayed just a few minutes," Estes said.
The department luckily has three other trucks on standby, and Estes will count on nearby communities to step in and assist during emergencies.
"Once the insurance company gets here and gets everything assessed, we're hoping it won't take us long to at least get the trucks up into running condition where we can have them back going," he noted, "but we will also look at maybe juggling some trucks around and getting one in this area."
Insurance adjusters must first assess the damage to the pumper, brush truck and recently purchased tanker, so the chief is unable to start rebuilding the fleet that took years to assemble.
"When I first started, we had two little ole Army trucks, and we kept going and we've gotten built up now to where we were really proud," Estes said. "And, one night, we got cut in half."
The Izard County Sheriff's Department says its investigation is active and ongoing. Investigator Charles Melton confirmed deputies have interviewed several persons of interest, but no arrests have been made.
To report any information about the acts of vandalism, please contact the sheriff at 870-368-4203.
Region 8 News will continue to track this story and provide any updates, as they become available.