05/26/2000

Non-stop 'crazy day' keeps police, firefighters hopping

St. Petersburg Times -- Workers in Tarpon Springs raced from one calamity to another Tuesday, dealing with two fires and a plane crash with help from other departments.By the time he finished his jam-packed day Tuesday, Tarpon Springs police Sgt. Allen MacKenzie had waded in knee-deep muck to the scene of a plane crash and investigated two fires. He also squeezed in a little time to eat pizza with second-graders at Sunset Hills Elementary School. "It was an absolute crazy day," MacKenzie said.He wasn't exaggerating. Firefighters and police officers in Tarpon Springs raced from one calamity to another Tuesday in a frenzy that left them exhausted but proud.One of the first major events of the day was a house fire that caused about $ 20,000 in damage and destroyed the apartment attached to a home at 1477 Grove Ave.While firefighters were still cleaning up there, some police officers and firefighters were called to the crash of a small plane into a marshy area of the Anclote River.Then, about 10:30 p.m., many of the same people rushed to a fire that did $ 100,000 worth of damage to a woodworking building at Stamas Yacht Inc."It was a little bit nuts," said Kevin Bowman, deputy chief of the Tarpon Springs Fire Department.He said the department often has busy days, made up of medical calls, traffic accidents and fires. But Tuesday was somewhat extraordinary for the number of calls and the scale of the incidents."It's just that yesterday, the calls were a bit more eclectic than usual," he said Wednesday.Everything went smoothly, Bowman said, in part because other fire departments helped out. Palm Harbor Fire and Rescue and the East Lake Fire Department assisted at the fires, and the Palm Harbor department took the lead on the plane crash.Some Tarpon Springs police officers who normally would have been on street patrol responded to the plane crash and the fires, so other officers had to fill in for them.By the end of the long day, firefighters and police officers looked weary. MacKenzie, who had worked all three events and attended a pizza party with a class he has adopted at the elementary school, said that Tuesday was one of the wildest days he could remember."It was 8 in the morning till 2 in the morning," he said. "Absolutely non-stop."
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