EUFAULA, AL (WSFA) - As the warnings of a tornado were issued to residents of Barbour County, Lt. Ethan Parrish and Driver Engineer Corey Crozier started preparing equipment in anticipation of helping others. Everything changed when they got the call the EF-2 tornado was headed right to them.
“The guys from the other station called and said it looks like it’s coming right towards y’all, so we got ready,” said Lt. Parrish.
Parrish says a quick glance outside and the sky had turned an ominous black and gray. Winds were starting to pick up.
The two ran to the interior bathroom of the station, huddled in the shower, and within minutes the tornado was moving right over their heads.
“When we got into the bathroom, you could hear metal ripping,” said Cozier. “Most people say it sounds like a freight train, but I didn’t hear that. Just the sound of metal ripping, tearing.”
After 10 to 15 seconds of over 111 mile per hour winds destroying everything around them, there was silence.
“I looked up and saw light coming through the vent in the bathroom and I knew then we at least lost some of the roof. I opened the door and everything was gone. It was unreal what we came out to,” said Parrish.
The roof beams were left twisted and bare. Insulation and light fixtures dangled. The front of the building looked like a giant fist smashed it in. The foundation shifted.
But the two firemen were able to walk out without a scratch.
As they crawled through mangled debris to get out of the building, their thoughts weren’t on what they just survived.
“I had no idea our engine was under debris. I was just focused on getting out and helping other people," said Crozier.
Wednesday was their first time coming back to the destroyed station since Sunday’s tornado. Standing in front of the building again, Parrish was reminded of the worst of what they went through and the blessing that the two are survivors.
“I almost felt at peace though, like a calm came over that we might not make it out of this... really just someone up above was watching over us,” said Parrish.
The station is set to be demolished Monday. Fire personnel are operating out of the airport terminal next door. For residents who have non-emergency concerns, they can contact the central fire station at 334-687-1218 for assistance.