By Amir Vera, Amy Simonson and Rebekah Riess, CNN
A Nevada fire department that closed one of its stations for an “undetermined amount of time” because of a bat infestation is now preparing to hand that station back over to the state and move to a new building.
The Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District said in August that Fire Station 30, which dates back to the 1950s, was a “health and safety risk for crews.” Bats were seen flying around the station’s living quarters and dead bats were found in the apparatus bay, the district said at the time. The district had also tried to address bat problems in 2015, only for the bats to return.
The station is about about 20 miles south of Reno, Nevada, and roughly 10 miles north of Carson City. It is leased to the fire protection district from the state of Nevada.
Fire Chief Charles Moore said Tuesday the district had been planning to move from the station since 2019 and architects have been hired to design the new station, which will be about 4 miles away from the one closing.
“We have struggled with bats and mice at this station for years. Nothing short of an extensive remodel will correct the problem, and that money would be better spent on the new one,” Moore told CNN. “The fire district did not want to extensively remodel a building it does not own and was planning to vacate soon, anyway.”
Notice of termination of the lease has been given to the state, and the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District proceeded to clean up the station in preparation for handover, Moore said.
“The live bats had already departed for the winter, but unfortunately, they will return in the spring to the point where they were born,” the chief said. “They are beneficial creatures to the environment, but creatures I don’t (want) my firefighters exposed to in close quarters.”
Bat exposure can put people at risk for rabies. Bats are the leading cause of rabies deaths in Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and can spread rabies through minor — or unrecognized — bites or scratches.
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CNN’s Paradise Afshar contributed to this report.