A group of Bloomington firefighters are counting their blessings after narrowly avoiding a potentially disastrous incident during Wednesday night’s severe thunderstorm. While returning to Fire Station Number 5 after responding to a medical call at Switchyard Park, their Polaris vehicle was struck by a large branch, leaving them uninjured.
The ordeal unfolded as a powerful thunderstorm swept through Bloomington. With gusty winds and heavy rain, the firefighters’ visibility was severely compromised as they returned to the station. The tree came crashing down, narrowly missing the cab of the vehicle and forcefully flinging the Polaris’s bed onto the ground. The impact was so powerful that it snapped a nearby light pole like a twig and bent the exhaust pipe of the vehicle.
Recalling the incident, one of the firefighters likened the sound to that of a shotgun. The Bloomington Police Department, upon arriving at the scene, indicated that the incident would be classified as an act of nature. The firefighters are uncertain about the potential damage to the vehicle’s frame.
None of the four firefighters, including a captain, two firefighters, and an engineer, sustained any injuries. In the aftermath of the incident, one firefighter expressed gratitude, stating, “We’re lucky to be alive.”
The outcome prompted speculation among the firefighters about the role of fate, considering the incident occurred exactly one year after the passing of Bob Loviscek, a former colleague who had spent a significant portion of his career on the same shift at Fire Station Number 5.
Curiously, this was the second incident involving a fallen tree in front of Fire Station Number 5 within a week. The other tree fell as firefighters were pulling out of the station. The timing of both occurrences left the firefighters perplexed, leading them to wonder whether Loviscek might have been watching over them. Scott McKnight, a member of the Bloomington Fire Department, revealed that he and Loviscek had personally selected and purchased the Polaris vehicle. A discount is offered by Polaris to fire departments.
The severe thunderstorm brought a rapid shift in weather conditions, with temperatures dropping from a scorching 95 degrees. Trees and branches were snapped in the storm’s ferocity, causing damage around Bloomington.