September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Washington Fire damages Sonora Fire Museum’s storage


SONORA, Calif. (KTXL) — A part of history was destroyed when the Washington Fire burned through storage for the Sonora Fire Museum. 

“You can barely see the old Sonora Fire Department logo,” said Jim Lillie, with the museum. 

A 1953 Sonora fire truck was badly damaged by the flames.

“Even the ladder melted on top, it got so hot,” Lillie told FOX40. 

Lillie said, before the fire, the truck was used in local parades and competitions. 

“This engine didn’t have 6,000 miles on it, and it still had the original paint,” Lillie said. “It had never been restored. It was almost as good as it came off the showroom floor.” 

For Mike Mandell, a retired firefighter, the fire truck held memories of a not-too-distant past.

“I drove this particular one on many a wildland fires. I slept in it for weeks one year,” Mandel said. 

Mandell said it pained him to see it in its current condition. 

“Makes me sick to my stomach, actually,” Mandell explained. “It’s just too bad to see it end up like this.” 

The old fire engine was not all that was lost in the fire. Dozens of artifacts packed away in storage are now charred and almost unrecognizable. 

“Some of this stuff, no one’s seen, you know, in for years and years, and it’s all powder and dust now,” Mandell said.

“It’s stuff we’ll never be able to recover or replace,” he continued.

While some history can’t be salvaged, they are hopeful the fire engine can be restored. 

Someone has already donated a cab and others have offered to send money to see the fire truck back on the road. 

“This community is amazing. When emergencies hit, they all come together, they’re very supportive,” said Sonora Fire Chief Aimee New. 

Anyone interested in helping can make a donation to Sonora Fire Museum or the Independent Hose Company. 

Sonora Fire Museum
125 North Washington Street
Sonora, CA 95370

Independent Hose Company
201 South Shepherd Street
Sonora, CA 95370

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