Wednesday, September 30, 2020
63.9 F
The Villages

Dispatchers escape burning building as electrical fire ignites at Wildwood Police Department

An electrical fire damaged a portion of the Wildwood Police Department on Sunday afternoon, forcing the agency’s dispatchers to quickly evacuate its building at 100 Huey Street.

An electrical fire damaged the 70-plus-year-old building that houses the Wildwood Police Department on Sunday afternoon.

Chief Paul Valentino said an electrical wire fell on a fence attached to the building and the current traveled into the 70-plus-year-old former bomb shelter, causing a blaze in the mechanical room and filling the facility with smoke.

“Everybody got out of the building and nobody was hurt,” Valentino said. “That’s what matters the most.”

Mayor Ed Wolf echoed those sentiments Monday afternoon.

“We are really lucky nobody got hurt,” he said. “It wasn’t safe to go in there this morning and they’re still assessing the damage. But we’re also lucky that it missed that big propane tank outside the building. So we are really fortunate.”

Valentino praised his officers and staff for moving quickly Sunday and said his department was fully operational again within 45 minutes of the issue taking place. He said his patrol operation has moved to the department’s Brownwood annex, his administrative team is working out of the Wildwood Community Center and his dispatchers relocated to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office on nearby Powell Road.

Wildwood City Manager Jason McHugh

City Manager Jason McHugh wrote in a memo to Wildwood commissioners that the facility received “extensive damage, the extent of which has yet to be determined.” He added that the city’s insurance company is sending an adjuster to assess the overall damage and a fire restoration company to assist with the cleanup effort.

The call for help at the police department came at 3:41 p.m. Sunday. The Sumter County Fire Department responded with a cadre of units and was backed up on mutual aid by engines from The Villages Public Safety Department.

Meanwhile, Valentino said, it’s important for Wildwood residents to know that their police department is fully functional should they need an officer for any reason.

“We are up and running and available,” he said.

The new $6.9 million Wildwood Police Headquarters building will be located at County Road 462 West and U.S. 301 on a seven-acre site the city purchased more than two years ago.

Wildwood currently is moving forward on a new police station headquarters that will be located at County Road 462 West and U.S. 301 – a seven-acre site the city purchased more than two years ago for $625,000 (the price later was reduced after sinkholes were found on the property.)

Architectural work on the proposed 13,200-square-foot building nearly is complete, with the estimated cost to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.9 million.

The Wildwood Commission recently voted to appoint a second selection committee to solicit proposals for a Construction Manager at Risk to supervise construction of the new police station. And they agreed to issue $7 million in capital improvement revenue bonds through Citizen’s First Bank to finance the project.

The police station building that was damaged by a fire Sunday eventually could be turned into a records room for the city.

Commissioners originally hoped to spend about $3.5 million on the new building, but this past January they learned the price tag had doubled. Some of the changes from the original building design included going from a metal building to stucco and brick, adding a sally port for secure transfer of suspects, a movable wall in the community room, a tower near the building’s entrance and space for a new communications center.

The old police station building probably will be turned into a records room at some point, depending the on the damage assessment from Sunday’s fire.

More Headlines

Local couple thrown out of Busch Gardens after argument over face masks

A local couple was thrown out of Busch Gardens theme park after an argument over face masks.

Villager on Wildwood Commission casts lone vote against water, trash rate hikes

The lone Villager serving on the Wildwood Commission was the only vote against rate hikes for water and garbage collection. Villages-News.com's Marv Balousek has details.

Photos

Limpkin Opens A Shellfish At Lake Mira Mar

Check out this limpkin catching and opening a shellfish by banging it on a rock at Lake Mira Mar. Thanks to Ron Clark for sharing!

Lightning Strike In The Village Of Amelia

Check out this lightning strike photographed from the Village of Amelia. Thanks to Abe Gzad for sharing!

Red Saddlebag Skimmer Dragonfly Taking A Break

Check out this red saddlebag skimmer dragonfly taking a break on a windy first day of fall. Thanks to Garry Kolb for sharing!

Letters to the Editor

This is not a friendly hometown

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of Santiago resident contends The Villages is not a friendly hometown.

Business

$28.7 million Lake Sumter Apartment Homes now open to renters

Lake Sumter Apartment Homes, a $28.7 million affordable housing community consisting of 158 apartment homes, is now open to renters.

Crime

Local couple thrown out of Busch Gardens after argument over face masks

A local couple was thrown out of Busch Gardens theme park after an argument over face masks.

Opinions

Trump’s Supreme Court nominee deserves fair and swift hearing

Congressman Daniel Webster contends President Trump's Supreme Court nominee deserves a fair and swift hearing.

Top Stories

COVID-19 cases spike in The Villages as three more local residents succumb to virus

A spike in COVID-19 cases was reported in The Villages and the surrounding area on Tuesday as three more local residents lost their battle with the virus.

Local couple thrown out of Busch Gardens after argument over face masks

A local couple was thrown out of Busch Gardens theme park after an argument over face masks.

Villager on Wildwood Commission casts lone vote against water, trash rate hikes

The lone Villager serving on the Wildwood Commission was the only vote against rate hikes for water and garbage collection. Villages-News.com's Marv Balousek has details.

Letters to the Editor

This is not a friendly hometown

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of Santiago resident contends The Villages is not a friendly hometown.

Lady Lake should not pump precious water to Sumter County

A Village of El Cortez resident contends Lady Lake should not pump precious water to Sumter County. Read his Letter to the Editor.

Kudos to Gov. DeSantis for reopening restaurants to full occupancy

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of Belle Aire resident salutes Gov. DeSantis for reopening restaurants to full capacity.

Crime

Local couple thrown out of Busch Gardens after argument over face masks

A local couple was thrown out of Busch Gardens theme park after an argument over face masks.

Lady Lake man jailed after alleged sex with woman who took sleep aid

A Lady Lake man was jailed after allegedly having sex with a woman who was under the influence of a sleep aid.

Couple on motorcycle end up behind bars after stopping for gas at Wawa

A couple on a motorcycle ended up behind bars after stopping for gas at Wawa at U.S. 301 and County Road 466 in Oxford.