ROSBURG — Thieves entered Station Two of Wahkiakum County Fire District Three last week, making off in the night with Ambulance 311 and vital lifesaving equipment pilfered from the station.
Fire District Commissioner Mark Letham said the theft probably occurred between 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, and before dawn Wednesday, Dec. 12.
The first inkling of the crime was a call to the Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office at 9 a.m. Dec. 12 reporting an ambulance parked on Kandoll Road with its rear doors open. Undersheriff Gary Howell went to the scene and met with members of the all-volunteer fire district. An inspection of the ambulance revealed it was missing equipment for first responders’ efforts to provide emergency care to the injured or ill.
The ambulance wasn’t damaged. However, upon returning the vehicle to Station Two at State Route 4 and Raistakka Road, an inventory of the other vehicles at the station showed firefighting equipment had been removed from Engine 304. It appears the items had been loaded into the ambulance, which was used to haul the stolen materials to Kandoll Road, where it was off-loaded into another vehicle. There were no signs of forced entry to the station, suggesting the thieves may have somehow obtained a key to the door.
“This isn’t just a theft from the fire district,” Letham said. “This is a theft from every resident in western Wahkiakum County. It’s difficult to imagine what kind of people would consider this an acceptable thing to do.”
Fire Chief Maki concurred, while noting the value of the stolen items is $50,000 to $60,000. The chief has since moved equipment around from other district vehicles so that both 311 and 304 are ready to put into service when needed. Maki plans to ask fire district commissioners to purchase and install security systems for the two stations.
“We’re not where we want to be or should be,” Maki said. “But we can continue to provide aid when needed.”
Since the theft became public, offers have come in from outside the county for loans or gifts of equipment. Coastal Lock in Astoria offered to change all the locks on Station 2, as well as Station 1 in Grays River. That work was performed free Dec. 12. The district’s insurance company has been contacted regarding replacement equipment.
Undersheriff Gary Howell is the lead investigator in this theft. A search for the perpetrators continues. Anyone who might have evidence is asked to contact Howell at the Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office, 360-465-2202 or 360-795-3242, or email@example.com.