Fire department’s next goal? Land

Firefighters serve a delicious barbecue lunch to Upper Red River Valley homeowners and residents. (chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)

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.

“Thank 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, adding, “[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 for 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 north-central New Mexico, including Angel Fire, Eagle Nest, and Questa.

This rescue off-highway vehicle was purchased using funds raised at previous Labor Day barbecues. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Wheeler Peak Fire Department Chief Deke Willis keeps the meat coming. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Davia Richard displays one of many desserts for the live auction. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Auctioneer, firefighter and Taos County Sheriff keeps up with bids while Brianne Willis displays desserts. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
According to Deke Willis, Peanut brittle donated by former resident Ben Fallin sold for $1,000. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Dianne and John Hughes bid $1,000 for banana pudding then donated the dessert back to be sold again! (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
The lovely Carol Woerndle offers beer to accompany barbecue. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)