Fire department's next goal? Land

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Wheeler Peak Volunteer Fire Department Chief Deke Willis says firefighters served 221 lunches during the annual Labor Day weekend barbecue Sunday (Sept. 3) and raised about $9,000 from the live auction at the station in the upper Red River Valley.

"Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed," Willis said. "Your support is greatly appreciated."

A sophisticated rescue off-road vehicle, purchased with funds raised from previous Labor Day barbecues, was on display for attendees. This year's fundraising goal is larger. The department hopes to raise funds to purchase land for an additional station to house badly needed equipment.

"We need additional equipment and I can't get grants because there's nowhere to store it," Willis said. "[The new station] needs to be about 3 miles from the existing station."

In addition to structure and wildland firefighting, the department helps with search and rescue and other services. Most of its volunteer firefighters are also firefighters with the Red River Fire Department.

The upper valley department fills a vital role through automatic aid agreements that it has with Red River Fire Department and as part of The Enchanted Circle Regional Fire Protection Association, which is made up of county and municipal fire departments in Northern New Mexico, including Angel Fire, Eagle Nest and Questa.

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