A fire truck responding to a medical call Monday on an unpaved road in north Clark County toppled over into a small creek, likely putting the emergency vehicle permanently out of commission.
Clark County Fire District 10 crews were dispatched about 8:20 a.m. to the 6200 block of Northeast 405th Street, northeast of La Center, for a report of a person having a fainting episode due to abnormal breathing.
Assistant Chief Gordon Brooks said the call was being treated as a potential COVID-19 case.
“At this point, we’re pretty much having to assume every sick caller may be infected and treat them as such,” Brooks said, adding that by the end of the call, responders were fairly certain that wasn’t the case.
Extra resources were requested due to the nature of the call. The driver and only occupant of the third fire engine to respond was making his way up a private road, which is narrow and unpaved, according to the assistant chief.
The ground on the soft shoulder of the road gave out, causing the truck to flip onto its top, coming to rest partially in a creek, Brooks said. The driver was taken to a hospital for evaluation and later released, he said.
The wreck did not appear to cause a significant fuel leak into the creek, but some transmission fluid escaped into the water. Brooks said firefighters were able to place booms downstream quickly. However, the Department of Ecology was called in to evaluate the spill.
The 20-year-old fire truck would need a lot of repairs if it were ever to be used again. An insurance adjuster will make that determination, but Brooks said any damage to the truck’s complex operating system would make putting it back in service unlikely.
At an estimated value of a half-million dollars, it’s unclear whether the fire engine will be replaced any time soon.
“They don’t give them away,” Brooks said. Luckily, the fire district still has an entire fleet ready for operation. It keeps an engine in reserve “just in case something like this happens,” he said.