- Associated Press - Monday, July 4, 2016

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) - Authorities are investigating after someone broke into the Smith Valley fire hall and set fire to a rescue truck that caused extensive damage, and officials are worried it could slow response to emergency calls in the busy area.

The truck was a total loss and a nearby engine had serious damage. Six sets of firefighting gear for fighting building and wildland fires, along with Jaws of Life equipment to pry victims from wrecked cars, water rescue equipment, a defibrillator and other important emergency equipment also were destroyed.

Fire Chief D.C. Haas of the Smith Valley Fire Department said a door was kicked in and someone set the fire. The fire was discovered Sunday morning when firefighters responded to the hall for a call about an accident.

“Everything is destroyed inside,” Haas said.

The fire department still has its main station at another location, but the loss of gear will impact the entire department. The fire hall is also used to help back up Kalispell and other fire agencies for major emergencies, the Daily Inter Lake reported (http://tinyurl.com/hv6j4v7 ).

“I need the people, but I have no means of clothing them or giving them the tools for being successful,” Haas said.

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

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Information from: Daily Inter Lake, http://www.dailyinterlake.com

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