BELL COUNTY, TX — A judge has ordered fire trucks that were stolen from Little River-Academy Volunteer Fire Department to be returned to the fire department.
"Sometime late yesterday, the mayor of Little-River Academy reported to his police chief, or wanted to report, the three trucks as stolen," Lange told Central Texas News Now in an interview in June.
According to the chief, they were never actually "stolen."
The problem was ownership.
"The mayor says the trucks belong to the community. The President of Little-River Academy Fire Department Association says the titles are in their name and belong to them. So that's the issue," said the sheriff.
On Tuesday, a judge ordered the fire trucks to be sent back to the volunteer fire department.
Still, safety concerns were addressed in the hearing.
"The way bell county is set up is little river for example has its assigned square mileage in the county for fire protection and EMS protection. And all the volunteer departments have an assigned area," said Charles Young, newly-appointed fire chief of Little River-Academy.
But without that coverage, surrounding communities must assist.
"Once we get reorganized and get a staff trained and all that then hopefully the county will say, OK, you meet the requirements so then the county is going to say now you can start covering your own area," said Young.
When Justice of the Peace Cliff Coleman asked who claims ownership, several hands went up. One of them was a private homeowner who says it belongs to the people.
"I mean the fire department has always been for the city and the fire district. For these people to think that they had possession and own the trucks, no. It’s all the people that live and make donations and help them get those trucks. They are the ones that own the trucks," said Michael Moon, a property owner in Little River-Academy.