Cuts force fire station to temporarily close

October 15, 2010 12:37:36 AM PDT
Residents of a rural East Contra Costa neighborhood are sending up a red flag of their own, now that a decision has been made to close their local fire station half of the year. It's a decision that's costing them more than just piece of mind.

Debbie Bell's homeowners' insurance was abruptly canceled by Allstate after the company learned her local fire station was closing at the end of fire season.

"I feel that we're in danger. I think everyone who uses Mt. Diablo State Park is in danger," she said.

Bell is among more than 200 Morgan Territory homeowners impacted by a decision to close the nearby sunshine fire station six months a year.

The station is staffed by CAL FIRE through the summer and in the winter, that staffing would have continued under a contract between CAL FIRE and the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District.

But now due to budget cuts, the district has canceled its winter contract with CAL FIRE.

"We're working with the resources we have. It is tough. It is tough to be a resident out there. I understand their concerns," Hugh Henderson

Once fire season officially ends, those who live in Morgan Territory will be served by a fire station more than seven miles away in Clayton.

Residents aren't just concerned about long response times. They're also hearing from their insurance companies, because they no longer have full-time fire protection within five miles of their homes.

"Insurance companies would look at it as without any fire protection. Because by the time you're going to get there, if you're seven and a half miles from a fire station, the damage is done," insurance agent Richard Brick said.

Bell says she hopes the fire district reconsiders its closing of the sunshine station. In the meantime, she's shopping for new homeowners' insurance. Without a fire station nearby, the premium will likely skyrocket from $1,400 to about $4,000 per year.


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