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'This has been my worst nightmare': Special Response Team headquarters damaged in Somerset fire

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Posted at 5:16 PM, Apr 27, 2021

SOMERSET, Ky. (LEX 18) — When there's a chemical spill in southern Kentucky, you can usually count on the Special Response Team from Somerset to answer the call, clean up, and get the road moving again. They're used to helping people.

But on Monday, their own headquarters was the response scene.

"It's horrible. A horrible feeling. This has been my worst nightmare. I've been chief 21 years," said Chief Doug Baker.

A fire broke out inside their station just before 5:00 p.m. Monday. Equipment and trucks were destroyed.

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Chief Baker says it appears the fire started inside their mobile command truck which was plugged in and charging at the time.

Sitting near the truck shell now is a reminder of what the team almost lost: their beloved birds.

"Everybody's always said we're a little off the side. We have to be to deal with hazmat and bio and chem. So, our birds are our Dalmatians," said Baker. "When I got to them, you couldn't see six inches in front of your face. Another couple of minutes, there would be no way they would've lived."

Both birds did survive. One is at a team member's house, the other is being evaluated by the vet.

Every human did escape the fire as well. Some equipment was spared.

"We were able to salvage all of our instrumentation that we need for chem and bio runs out of that truck," said Baker.

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But the clean-up and replacements will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Once the insurance adjusters make their evaluation, the hard part begins.

"It may not be as pretty as it once was, but we'll rebuild from that. But everybody pulled together last night and we are back functional," said Baker.