BRAWLEY — Carmen L. Araujo remembered the house fire that killed three children on K Street.
The tragedy occurred 64 years ago, the lifelong Brawley resident said, but the deaths spurred her and others into action by pushing to have a second fire station built on the eastside one day.
On Thursday, Araujo and 200 other people celebrated what she and city officials said was a long sought-after goal for Brawley that was finally realized.
“I’m so glad we finally got it on the east. That’s a long time,” Araujo said. “This is my dream and it came true.”
Officials from several Imperial Valley cities and a few fire departments attended the upbeat event that marked the completion of Brawley Fire Station No. 2.
The $3 million facility whose construction was partly funded by redevelopment agency money is expected to be operational in May, said Mayor George Nava.
Nava touted the vital statistics of the 3,800-square-foot structure made of wood and concrete block which can house up to 12 people and has two bays.
The station, located at 1505 E. Jones St., also has a patio, administrative offices and an exercise room, Nava said.
But aside from all the refinements Station No. 2 has Nava said its development resulted from the collaborative work city officials and residents put in over the years.
“It means a whole lot,” Nava said. “Everyone here is excited. … It’s something we can all be excited about.”
Excitement didn’t come close to describing the jubilation the usually reserved Councilman Ryan Kelley expressed when he spoke to the crowd.
“Hallelujah,” exclaimed Kelley, who spoke highly of recently retired Brawley Fire Chief Frank Contreras and his contributions to the effort.
Kelley also poked fun at El Centro City Manager Ruben Duran by jokingly telling him they had sort of a running bet.
“We had a challenge,” Kelley said with a smile to which Duran smiled back. “Who could do this quicker?”
Contreras, who was accompanied by his wife and family, told how happy he was that the second fire station came when he still had a connection with the Fire Department.
Contreras also thanked interim Fire Chief Chuck Peraza for his work.
A highlight of the event came when City Councilman Don Campbell introduced Araujo, who was once his campaign manager.
Araujo, 82, spoke of a past bond measure to fund Station No. 2 that failed at the polls and of how she and others in the community never wavered in their commitment to have fire protection east of the railroad tracks.
Araujo and her husband, Dario, were expecting their first child when the fire she spoke of occurred.
“If you want something,” Araujo said, “we need to work at it.”
Staff Writer Silvio J. Panta can be reached at 760-337-3442 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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