Michigan fire department comes to the aid of small Texas town

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by JASON WHEELER

WFAA

Posted on August 25, 2013 at 11:15 AM

ABBOTT, Texas -- When a fertilizer depot in West, Texas caught fire and exploded earlier this year, the impact in nearby Abbott, Texas was pretty tremendous, too.

"The ground shook on April 17th. It shook all of us," said Abbott Mayor Anthony Pustejovsky.

Abbott didn’t hesitate to help its neighbors in West. "If something happens to West, it happens to Abbott and vice-versa, so it was a very natural thing for everyone to get together and respond," the mayor said.

The small fire department in Abbott lost two firemen and a fire engine in that blast. But on Saturday morning the department that sacrificed so much received a remarkable gesture of mutual aid.

The president of the Abbott Volunteer Fire Department, Doreen Strickland, was overwhelmed that firefighters came all the way from Ada Township in Michigan to drop off one of their perfectly good fire trucks that was being retired.

"To this department it's hard to say... words just can’t express what everyone is going through today," she said.

Ada Township firefighter Lt. David Murray was aboard the engine as it slowly drove into Abbott.

"You make that last curve and you see the streets lined with people... you know it hits you deep in your heart," he said. "You know they are the same as we are. I’m sure if we needed something, they would help us."

In addition to the much-needed equipment, the Michigan firefighters also brought a $10,000 cash donation — an amount almost equal to the Abbott Fire Department’s entire annual budget.

And punctuating the big deliveries was a small touch that meant just as much — the names of the Abbott firefighters who perished are inscribed on the side of the donated truck.

“The honor wall on the back of the cab — that right there brought tears instantly," said Abbott firefighter Jeffrey Sanders. "That’s going to be amazing."

E-mail jwheeler@wfaa.com

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