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Video: Ind. firefighters respond to call minutes before tornado hits station

Extensive damage to the station is forcing Whiteland crews to share a station in New Whiteland, which is a tight fit for the number of members


Photo/Whiteland Fire Department

By Leila Merrill

WHITELAND, Ind. — An EF3 tornado struck the Whiteland firehouse last week, ripping the roof off the front and collapsing part of the station, including the bunk room. Crewmembers had gone to bed but got a call about five minutes before the twister hit, WTHR reported.

“It picked up all kinds of debris. It ripped the roof off the front side,” said Whiteland Fire Chief Eric Funkhouser. “Really peeled it off.”

The bunk room was the most damaged area. In addition, heavy rain caused water damage and mold, further compounding the issue. The bays were the least damaged, but much of the firehouse remains unusable and open to the elements.

Firefighters are working out of a station in New Whiteland a mile away, which is proving a tight fit for two full departments.

Insurance adjusters are assessing the damage to the Whiteland firehouse. This situation has also highlighted the importance of using stronger materials in building public safety facilities, as the firehouse is essentially a metal pole barn with no basement, concrete or bricks.

The recovery process for the fire department is expected to take many months.