BERKELEY, Mo. - Did budget cuts keep fire fighters from saving a man's home? That is the question people in one St. Louis County community are asking.
Charles Cross says he is thankful no one was home when fire destroyed his Berkeley house the day before Father's Day. But, he believes his family would still have a home if the closest fire station had been open that day.
The City of Berkeley says declining tax revenue and unexpected tornado recovery costs have strained its budget. And over the past eight months the city says it has closed one of its two fire stations temporarily to save money.
"I don't think my house would have burned down the way that it did if that fire station right there would have been open," said Cross, referring to the station that is about two minutes from his house.
Fire fighters came from another station farther away and from Ferguson on a mutual aid agreement the day of Cross's fire. By the time they arrived, he says the house was a total loss.
The fire chief says fire fighters made it to Cross's home in about seven minutes after the call came in, and says they could not have saved his home, even with the closer station open that day.
The city says the budget is back in line and the station will stay open going forward, but Cross and others in Berkeley are planning to protest city hall should it close again.