Community rallies around destroyed Autryville Fire Department

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Autryville Fire Chief Andrew Hawkins

North Carolina State Fire Marshal Mike Causey, Senator Brent Jackson, and other leaders visited the Autryville Fire Department on Friday to assess the damage after a tornado destroyed the building and fire equipment.

Leaders will determine the best option for replacing equipment and restoring the building at 305 North Hotel Street.

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Meanwhile, the community is pitching in to help the volunteer fire department. The department's Facebook page says it has loaner trucks from other departments in the state and that other departments are responding to service calls.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to collect donations for the department, which is made up of volunteer firefighters. The page says: "Any donation amount you can give will be used, along with our insurance funds, to rebuild our department and restore our equipment."

An EF-1 tornado touched down in the small town of Autryville on Tuesday, bringing winds of up to 110 mph.

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The twister did heavy damage (Jim Shumacher video)

Showing the spirit of the brotherhood, the Princeville Fire Department - no stranger to disaster - loaned a fire engine to Autryville after three of Autryville FD's were destroyed by the tornado.

That helps the fire department continue responding to calls.

But it's still a long road to recovery - the Autryville Fire Department has been working out of a temporary shelter in an empty parking lot.

The powerful winds tore off the garage doors and blew off the roof of the fire department, smashing three trucks. Volunteer firefighters on duty say they took cover under the fire trucks to ride out the storm then climbed out from the rubble. Some had minor scrapes, cuts, and bruises.

I don't think the community realizes what type of fire department we had," Autryville Fire Chief Andrew Hawkins said. "To see us work with no station like we were, responding to someone else's call is pretty awesome."

Princeville Fire Chief James Powell knows adversity. His city - and department - were ravaged by Hurricane Matthew.

Still, he said he didn't have to think twice about helping a fellow fire department.

"Didn't take me a split second to make that decision," Powell said. "Anytime that we can help another organization such as ourself - we've gotten a lot of help from other fire departments across our state.

"This is what we do to support each other," Powell added.

Hawkins was appreciative of help from all comers, including state leaders who visited Autryville on Friday.

"It's invaluable," Hawkins said. "Insurance only covers so much. The outreach from everyone has been amazing."

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The fire station was destroyed by the twister

The town of Autryville has a population of 200 people. The tight-knit community had already planned a June 10 fundraiser for the fire department weeks ago. Now, it's taking on new meaning as the money is needed even more. Because of damage to the building, the fundraiser is being moved next door to the Autryville New Life Church of God.

To help:

or go to the Autryville Fire Department Facebook Page

Fundraiser Details:

Autryville Fire Department
Saturday, June 10

Bake Sale
Starting at 8 am
400 E. Howard St
Roseboro, NC, 28382

12-4 pm

Autryville New Life Church of God
206 N. Hotel Street
Autryville, NC

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