LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Powerful wind and pounding rain toppled trees throughout Louisville Sunday afternoon, flooding 911 lines with calls for help.
The storm underscored a cloud lingering over Louisville's budget in the form of cut to emergency services.
In fact, it was firefighters from the Grade Lane station, now in danger of closing, that responded to a home which caught fire on Scholar Street in Louisville around 5 p.m. A tree topped over onto two cars and brought down a power line prompting the fire at Sherry and Bill Carr’s house.
“(Firefighters) got here before the fire got big,” Bill Carr explained. “Ten more minutes and the house probably would have burned down because it had spread to the attic and insulation when they got here.”
But those 10 minutes is what a delay the response time could be if the Grade Lane station closes as proposed. The next closes firehouses range from just over three to five miles away.
“This is not just tightening the purse string,” Louisville Professional Firefighters Union President Brian O’Neill said. “This is going to hurt the community and possible going to injure or kill firefighters or citizens this is life and death.”
O’Neill penned an open letter to Louisville Metro Council members on Sunday, in part begging city leaders to reverse a $1.7 million budget cut which included the closure of the grade lane fire station. The department would also lose 15 fire positions through attrition.
“Will the loss of this Fire Station mean a greater potential for property loss, injuries, loss of life, and a far greater risk for Firefighters? Yes. That is what you will be voting for,” O’Neill wrote.
It's not just fire at stake in Tuesday's council vote. Next year's spending plan slashes services throughout Metro Government as the city tries to fill a $65 million shortfall tied mostly to state mandated pension increases.
“There are things in this budget that no one likes,” District 9 Councilman Bill Hollander said. “When you talk about this is something that needs to be added where would it come from and it’s very hard to find at this point.”
Those answers are not good enough to some of scholar street. Ray Sego was inside one of the cars hit by the large tree toppled over and pulled down a power line sparking a fire.
“I don’t think it’s right,” Sego said. “ I’m okay, but those firefighters, they save lives.”
O’Neill said behind the scenes Louisville's fire chief is moving dollars in every way he can in an attempt to find a way to shoulder the $1.7 million cut and keep open the grade lane station.
“When it comes to metro government we always have a wait and see attitude,” O’Neill said.
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