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Three local fire departments help with Laclede County fire
SLEEPER, Mo. (Dec. 24, 2008) — Several Pulaski County fire departments were called out late Sunday night and early Monday morning to help fight a fire in rural Laclede County.

“We responded along with numerous other departments around the area,” said Hazelgreen Fire Chief Eric Price, who said his firefighters were among 20 to 30 people from various departments summoned about 3:15 a.m. Monday to a residential structure fire that continued until nearly 10 a.m.

Firefighters on the scene of the blaze on Highway BB near the Highway 5 junction about a half-dozen miles from Lebanon included the Tricounty Rural Fire Protection District in Richland, as well as Sleeper, Stoutland, Lebanon Rural and Lebanon City.

“It was a great combination effort between all the different departments that worked out pretty well,” Price said. “What a lot of people don’t understand when you’re working a structure fire, especially in the weather we’ve been having, we need relief crews. One department just can’t do it by themselves and we all work really well together around here and support each other in doing this.”

While the Hazelgreen and Tri-County firefighters were assisting at the blaze, the Lebanon Rural Fire Protection District’s station was filled by a backup crew and equipment from Waynesville.

“The fire went so long that we actually sent out a new crew to do a crew change,” said Waynesville Rural Fire Chief Doug Yurecko. “We were filling in at the Lebanon Rural station so we didn’t see much of what went on at the fire, but it’s almost a given that when you have one fire, something else could happen that requires backup.”

Yurecko, who serves as secretary of the Pulaski County Fire Chiefs’ Association, said the presence of two full-time fire departments in Pulaski County — Waynesville and the St. Robert Fire Department — has made it easier for Pulaski County departments to back each other up and to assist departments as needed in adjoining counties.

Cooperation between the Pulaski and Laclede departments has been extensive in recent years with Lebanon firefighters often helping Waynesville or St. Robert firefighters by filling in stations while their firefighters are on fire calls; Pulaski County firefighters from various fire districts have been called out to several recent major fires in and near Lebanon.

Despite its name, the Waynesville Rural Fire Protection District’s territory runs from Waynesville all the way east to Devil’s Elbow on the far eastern edge of Pulaski County and stretches a half-dozen miles up Highway 28 toward Dixon. That means mutual aid is sometimes needed from Phelps County for crashes on Interstate 44 and some major fires on the eastern end of Pulaski County. Yurecko said cooperative agreements already exist between the Waynesville Rural Fire Protection District and both the Doolittle Fire Protection District and Rolla Rural Fire Protection District in Phelps County, and plans are underway to formalize fire assistance agreements with more Phelps County firefighters.

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