By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
The Murphys Fire Protection District fleet has just expanded, courtesy of a local business and family.
The bright red 1989 engine, replacing a 1967 engine stationed at the Vallecito firehouse, has come to the Murphys district as a gift.
John and Jack Kautz, who own Ironstone Vineyards and other Murphys real estate, contributed the $25,000 needed to buy it.
"This is an extremely good price for the engine," said Murphys Fire Chief Robert Pereira. "It has very low mileage and very low pump hours for its age. It's very much like a new truck.
"Usually (an engine like this would) sell for $10,000 to $15,000 more than we paid. So it's an incredible deal for the district," he said.
The engine came from Union City, which is updating its fleet of engines.
Jack Kautz said the idea of buying an engine for the district came to him and his father during a live fire training at the old Bret Harte Center in Murphys, which the Kautz family owns.
The fire training that took place May 31 and June 1 included 139 fire fighters from several counties. During the two days, old Bret Harte Center buildings were set ablaze and firefighters and their equipment fought the flames.
"Looking at some of the other fire departments' engines and equipment, you could really see the need," Kautz said.
"We'll be in Murphys for quite a while and the area is growing, so we talked about it and thought it would be a nice gesture to buy an engine."
Pereira was thinking along similar lines, and actually approached Jack Kautz for a donation.
"With Measure A (a special tax to raise funds for the district) not passing, asking the public for cash donations is a last resort," he said. "But we had to do something, we had to take action to bring the fleet up to the quality needed."
Pereira said the new engine is perfect for the Murphys District.
Weekly Arts and entertainment guide for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties