CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
BUCHANAN DAM — Authorities are seeking the public’s help in finding suspects who broke into a volunteer fire department, destroyed equipment, and burglarized the building, causing thousands of dollars in loss and damage.
The incident happened sometime overnight before 5 a.m. Jan. 13 at the Buchanan Dam Volunteer Fire Department, 2407 RR 261.
“To most of us, it was quite a shock coming in here and having to clean up, go through everything,” said volunteer firefighter Tommy Phillips, who is also the treasurer for the agency. “They went through all the vehicles. They pulled everything off the racks and put it on the floor.”
Officials identified a window of time when the incident might have occurred. The volunteers were at the facility until 11:30 p.m. Jan. 12 undergoing training.
“We just got a brand-new engine, and we’re training everybody. Some were here cleaning up and putting everything away,” Phillips said of the night before the incident.
The next morning, “we had a couple of people who drove by the station and noticed one of the front doors facing the highway was open, and there were no (volunteer personal) vehicles,” he said.
Missing items included flashlights and a garage door opener; however, the most notable losses involved property damage.
Suspects failed to remove an industrial compressor from the building due to its size.
“They busted out the pane-glass window, entered through a window in the back of the building,” he said “They dropped a compressor. … It has been damaged. That’s the expensive part.”
Suspects also failed to remove three piles of items they stacked on the floor, including box lights, firefighting gear, oxygen bottles, and a small safe.
“They couldn’t get into the closed safe,” Phillips added.
The fire agency, which receives some tax dollars through Llano County Emergency Services District No. 2, primarily relies on fundraisers that members host twice a year and donations to supplement operations for the all-volunteer staff, which numbers 17.
“Here we are trying to provide a service, and someone comes in and does this,” Phillips said.
Supporters have established a GoFundMe.com account for the agency to assist with the losses. Donate by clicking HERE.
Anyone with information about the suspect may call the Llano County Sheriff’s Office at (325) 247-5050. People may also call Hill Country Area Crime Stoppers at 1-866-756-8477 to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward up to $2,000. To find out more, go to hillcountryareacrimestoppers.com.