LAKE NORDEN, S.D. (KELO) — The small town of Lake Norden, South Dakota, suffered a big loss early Wednesday morning when a fire destroyed the fire department building and most of the equipment and vehicles inside.

It could take months to recover and get back in operation.

“At this time it looks like it’s a total loss,” Lake Norden Mayor Jason Aho said.

The call came in at about 5:30 Wednesday morning when volunteer firefighters from Lake Norden couldn’t even fight their own fire, because they couldn’t get to their trucks.

Numerous firefighters from surrounding towns, like Hayti, Estelline, Badger, Castlewood and even Watertown were called in to help knock down the flames, but the loss is devastating.

“Heard the page out this morning, we were surprised that’s kind of a bad day for a fire department,” Commander of Search and Rescue of Codington County Larry Howard said.

In all, officials say five fire trucks and two ambulances were burned in the fire.

“It has damaged both our vehicles to the point where they are unusable,” Lake Norden Ambulance board president Rusty Antonen said.

Some police equipment also burned.

Crews battled the flames all day, now they fight back the emotions of losing so much and how they’ll have to rely on each other to respond to emergencies.

Even Wednesday’s quick response by other volunteer firefighting departments didn’t go unnoticed by the mayor.

  • Damaged fire truck from Lake Norden
  • Damaged ambulances in Lake Norden
  • Outside the Lake Norden fire station after fire destroyed the building
  • Fire at Lake Norden fire station
  • Castlewood Fire crews at scene of Lake Norden fire
  • Firefighters spray water at Lake Norden fire station
  • Firefighters work to put out fire
  • Fire at Lake Norden emergency building

“The other thing I’d like to do is thank all these communities for offering their support and help, that’s what living in small-town South Dakota is everybody comes and helps each other out when you need it,” Aho said.

The state fire marshal has been called in to investigate to find the cause. They are asking people to stay away for now, so they have room to get the fire hall torn down and cleaned up.