Calif. residents are buying their own fire trucks on Craigslist

Ads on Craiglist are advertising fire trucks for use to fight wildfires, with prices ranging from $15,000 to $69,000


Andrew Chamings
SFGate, San Francisco

SACRAMENTO — For $17,000, an imported 1995 Japanese Toyota Hilux fire truck can be yours.

"This particular unit features ladder and hose racking, a slide-out pump tray in the bed, cargo basket, and two spot lights on the driver's side," reads an ad, one of many on Craigslist right now, hawking private fire trucks in California.

California residents are reportedly buying their own fire trucks on Craigslist amidst devastating wildfires. (Photo/Dreamstime via TNS)
California residents are reportedly buying their own fire trucks on Craigslist amidst devastating wildfires. (Photo/Dreamstime via TNS)

The devastating 2020 wildfires, sparked by an unforgiving dry lightning storm in August amid a soaring heat wave, left over one million acres of California torched, and the state's fire services dangerously depleted of firefighters, trucks and other resources.

It should probably come as no surprise that worried residents would start to look into DIY fire protection, but the market for fire trucks on Craigslist right now is unprecedented.

NPR reports that a Sacramento company called Vans From Japan is cashing in on the demand by buying up trucks from Japan and making money selling them in on California, and they're using Craigslist to offload the vehicles.

Beyond the imported trucks, other offerings on the site right now include a 2013 Peterbilt water truck that can carry 2,500 gallons of water to a blaze and "meets all Cal Fire specs." That seller in Pacifica is looking for $69,000.

At a more reasonable price, a "Type 6 Fire Truck" in Napa is on offer for $17,500, fitted with a Hale pump and 200 feet of hard line hose with a nozzle.  The seller reveals, "I purchased two of these trucks that were maintained as reserve units for cal fire ... but only really need one."

One seller is hoping to get $15,000 for a 53-year-old Ford 150 fire truck.  He confesses that he "was told the pump needed some seals," but suggests that "with these lightning complex fires going on, maybe you could use it."

Over the last few years, as wildfires have become more common, there has also been a rise in a small but growing number of wealthy residents hiring private firefighting crews to watch over their acres.

Cal Fire has discouraged attempts to defend one's own property during an evacuation order. “People don’t understand the ferocity of these fires that we’ve been dealing with the last five or so years,” Cal Fire Fire Captain Scott McLean told SFGATE. “They’re very unpredictable and you can’t project what the fire’s going to do.”

As wildfires become a recurring crisis in California through warming temperatures, housing developments in the wildland-urban interface and the effects of climate change, residents deciding to have their own fire-fighting vehicle at the ready in their driveway may become a more common sight.

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©2020 SFGate, San Francisco

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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