MANSFIELD — The importance of smoke detectors was never more in evidence early Wednesday morning, as they alerted firefighters to an engine blaze at the North Main Street fire station that sent two firefighters to the hospital and caused upwards of $1 million damage.
Four firefighters responding to the alarms were able to save the building and other emergency vehicles parked inside. The fire forced the station to close. It could be reopened in 30 days or less once it is cleaned of soot and electrical circuits damaged by water used to fight the blaze are repaired, Deputy Fire Chief James Puleo said.
“We’re just as susceptible as anyone else,” Puleo said. “The detectors alerted everyone. They were able to get out safely.”
Two firefighters suffered smoke inhalation as they rushed to get two ambulances, a fire engine and a brush truck out of the downtown fire station, Puleo said. The firefighters then turned to fighting the blaze without wearing any protective gear or breathing tanks.
“It’s a credit to the guys that they were willing to go at it without their turnout gear. This could have taken out the whole building,” Puleo said.
The firefighters were treated at Norwood Hospital and were released several hours later.
The two-alarm fire, reported about 2:40 a.m., was accidental and was contained to the vehicle, Puleo said, adding it started in the engine compartment of the truck, likely due to an electrical issue or a fuel leak.
The fire truck, Engine 32, had returned to the center bay of the station about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday after a call. It was used on several runs during the day and fire officials reported no mechanical problems with the vehicle, Puleo said.
The engine was destroyed, with the loss estimated at $630,000.
There was no structural damage to the station but there was smoke throughout the building, rendering medical supplies and other emergency medical services equipment useless, Puleo said. Thirty sets of protective fire suits have to be cleaned, he said.
The smoke blackened the ceiling and floors boards and the garage bay doors. The total damage is upwards of $1 million, according to the deputy.
The town’s two ambulances are out of service because of the smoke damage. The vehicles have to be decontaminated, restocked with medical supplies and inspected by the state. Puleo said the ambulances could be in service Thursday.
A fire engine on loan to the department from Norton also escaped damage.
The brush truck had soot on it but was not damaged.
While the station is being prepared to reopen, firefighters, an ambulance and a fire engine will be stationed at the new Department of Public Works garage on East Street enabling the fire department to lessen response times to emergencies on the east end of town, Puleo said.
The fire department continued to respond to emergencies Thursday and Foxboro and Norton were available for mutual aid, Puleo said.
The firefighters were upstairs in the crew quarters when the smoke alarms sounded.
“They saw smoke coming through the floor,” Puleo said, before they went to the ground floor to investigate.
“There was fire coming out of the engine and there was very thick smoke,” Puleo said.
The fire was extinguished by 3:30 a.m. At one time, three fire hoses were trained on it.
The two firefighters who suffered smoke inhalation were brought to the hospital in Easton and Foxboro ambulances.
Firefighters from Norton, North Attleboro, Foxboro and Sharon assisted at the scene. Plainville firefighters covered the Plymouth Street fire station.
A section of North Main from Route 106 to Church Street closed because of the fire was opened again about 7:30 a.m.
The fire occurred about four months before the department will be able to start moving into a new facility being built on East Street.
The new building will house both the fire and police departments. Town meeting approved $35 million in 2015 for the new building and public works garage.