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Firefighters Devastated After Kids Trash Volunteer Fire Station, Destroying Irreplaceable Memorabilia

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Chicago-area firefighters said they're in "disbelief" after kids vandalized the Homewood Acres volunteer fire station, leaving the space trashed and irreplaceable memorabilia destroyed.

"Shock, disbelief," said Homewood Acres Fire Chief Brian Rouson of the scene. "It looked like a tornado came through here.”

Rouson said four or five young people, likely under the age of 14, were seen last weekend on security footage walking around the firehouse, which he noted is unmanned about 90% of the time.

"What drove them to do this, I'll never get my mind wrapped around that. They probably couldn't explain it to anybody," Rouson said, "I, I haven't looked at all the video. Somebody was the ringleader - directed them to do what they did.”

However, on the video footage, the children cannot be seen damaging the walls, ransacking the offices and destroying items cherished by the firefighters, according to officials.

"There's a lot of memorabilia that can't be replaced - awards and photographs, trophies - that kind of stuff. They're destroyed," Rouson said.

The chief said the incident happened Saturday morning, but wasn't discovered until Monday when Lt. Joe Rutkiewicz stopped by to use the facility.

"You never think somebody's going to come in and trash somebody's firehouse," Rutkiewicz said.

The Lieutenant is one of twelve volunteer firefighters who work at the station. He said the vandals tried to hide their faces from security cameras, then subsequently destroyed the devices before they could capture video footage of the incident.

"We do this for the community. We don't expect any compensation. We give our own time, our own gas money out of it to - to come up here and help the community, and this is how we get repaid," Rutkiewicz said.

The Cook County Sheriff's Office is investigating, officials said.

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