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Volunteers move historic Haines firehouse
By LISA BRITTON
Of the Baker City Herald
HAINES In 1959, Georgia Scott's home in Haines caught on fire when a wayward match hit a pile of straw.
"They caught some straw on fire and burned several buildings," said Scott, 94.
The Haines fire department came to the rescue, bringing equipment from the old firehouse on Cole Street.
"The fire department consisted of that two-wheeled cart that pulled the hose," Scott said. "They hadn't had a fire in so long that they had to find a fire hydrant."
That firehouse hasn't been used since 1968, when the fire department was moved to the current cinder block fire hall. The old building was then used to store city supplies and maintenance equipment.
During a wind storm last summer, pieces of the firehouse roof blew off, including the antique fire bell.
Haines Mayor Mary Jane Rose said city officials were told that if the building was reroofed with tin, the winter snow would slide right onto the new fire hall's flat roof next door.
"We had to make the decision to protect it or move it," she said.
Rose met with Richard Howe, Martin Neske and Doug Schneider, all of Haines, to discuss the feasibility of saving the 100-year-old building.
"She wanted to know if it was doable, and I said it's done all the time," Howe said.
Rose took the matter to the Haines City Council and everyone agreed it was a good idea.
"We try to encourage people to protect the historic structures in town," Rose said.
Last Wednesday the firehouse was relocated to the north of Rock Creek in the Haines Children's Peace Park.
But first came the preparations.
Over the last four weeks, Neske, Howe and Schneider volunteered their time to jack up the building, reinforce the bottom for stability, and level it.
"Right now as it sits, it's straighter and leveler than it's been for 50 years," Howe said.
The mode of transportation came from Neske, who utilized a former mobile home. He removed the top living part and modified the frame.
"He cut off the front and cut off the back and welded the tongue back on," said his wife, Mary. Martin was busy backing the building into it's new home.
However, getting it to the park was another challenge altogether.
Howe said that moving power lines and traveling on Highway 30 the only option while the building was in one piece were such a hassle that they decided to just drive through the streets of Haines.
"What we did is we took the roof off," Howe said.
After removing the roof, the volunteers cut through three studs supporting the false front, hinged them, then cut through the rest to lay it back on top of the building.
This shortened the height enough that it could fit beneath the power lines.
After a slow trip through town, Neske backed the firehouse into it's new space, where the volunteers had already prepared a foundation.
Babe Deardorff, Chuck Rohner and Larry Curry helped the others jack the building off the trailer and lower it to settle on the ground.
Soon the roof will be rebuilt and the fire bell placed on top. After the building has been renovated, it will house gardening tools for the park's upkeep and the city's speed monitor trailer.
This spring students at the Baker Alternative School will sand and repaint the antique building.
"They'll help bring this back to life," Rose said.