PALM DESERT – “I don’t have words to explain it,” says Sharon Ollenburger as she and Terry Bierfreund look over the damage of two Desert Sheriff Search and Rescue vehicles. Sunday night, a fire completely burned this utility truck, partially burned theSUV parked next to it and even singed a trailer with ATV’s loaded on it. All of it used for search and rescue operations in the desert.
“It just had so much stuff in there like night goggles and just any extra stuff that we needed, first-aid kits, you name it, it had everything in there,” Bierfreund says.
“I estimate $300,000 worth that came from grants, donations and from 14 years of hard work,” Ollenburger says.
Ollenburger says she was here Saturday, the day before the fire. She says this ladder wasn’t here which leads her to believe that someone may have been in and out of here when the fire happened.
“how are you going to communicate out in the field? That was our communication and it’s just going to make it more difficult,” says Bierfreund.
“We’re all volunteers, we’re on call 24-7, everybody works. They take time away from their families to go get somebody in distress, somebody who is lost, return them to their loved ones so I really can’t explain it,” Ollenburger says.
The Riverside County Sheriff Department says the cause of the fire is arson. Nobody was hurt in the fire. No suspect description is available and the case is still under investigation.