SIKESTON -- The Haunted Inn currently under development by the Portageville Volunteer Fire Department is sure to make its visitors come to a screeching halt later this month.
But even more frightening is the risk accident victims may face should the department's existing rescue truck -- a 1974 U-Haul truck -- break down en route to extricating someone from a vehicle.
"We have state-of-the-art equipment, and the truck is junk," 27-year-old volunteer fireman Austin DeLisle said.
The department has all of the updated rescue equipment -- three sets of jaws, air bags, etc.
"But we don't have safe truck to take it in," George DeLisle, assistant chief, said.
Looking to raise money for a new truck, the department jumped at the opportunity to cease the demolition of a run-down building in Portageville. "It looks spooky when you go inside. We were scared without any props," he said.
The fire department looked into what it would take to host a haunted house in the building and then obtained insurance, DeLisle said. They cleaned up the building and began transforming it into a haunted house open to the public Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 27-31.
Visitors to the Haunted Inn will participate in a group guided tour through several rooms that feature various scenes which will include a zombie bar, electric chair, chainsaw, cemetery, pit of snakes and a maze, DeLisle said.
Putting the Haunted Inn together was a huge undertaking.
All the firemen have donated their time to construct scenes over the past month, and several local companies have donated materials.
Cities of Marston and Lilbourn will be on stand-by during the tour times in case of emergencies, and the New Madrid County Alert Team is doing security, DeLisle said.
Years ago the now defunct Portageville Jaycees orchestrated "Haunted Woods," a haunted guided tour through the woods. Some of the former Jaycees have also lent a hand in creating the tours, DeLisle said.
Volunteer fireman Ronnie Adams Jr. said a lot of labor is involved.
"A couple of us -- we did help in the Haunted Woods in high school, and when this building came up, we thought it'd be a good idea for the community and for us to have a haunted house," Adams said.
Adams pointed out everyone has full-time jobs, and after get off work, go work three or four hours
"It's very time consuming, but in the long run, I think it will work out for us and the community," Adams said.
Proceeds from the Haunted Inn will be used to purchase a brand new $136,000-rescue truck.
"We don't have that kind of money. We applied for a grant with USDA, and you have to have so much money set aside," DeLisle said.
Plus, DeLisle said the department suffers a huge loss when they provide extrication since the majority of insurance companies do not pay for the service.
"We're the only fire department in New Madrid County that has extrication," Adams said.
Any time the department gets called to provide extrication, a matter of life or death is at stake, Austin DeLisle said.
"We have to get those people out of the vehicles so they can be treated immediately. If we don't have the proper vehicle, we won't make it," Austin DeLisle said.
Portageville Fire Department's service area ranges from the Wardell overpass to Highway U on Interstate 55 near Lilbourn and New Madrid and to the river in Risco.
Comprised of 31 volunteers, the department responds to wrecks, farm accidents, search and rescue about 15 times a month.
Although raising money for the volunteer fire and rescue fund is the main purpose for the Halloween event, George DeLisle said there's plenty of room for fun.
DeLisle said: "We're just trying to get kids to have a good time and make it a benefit for everybody."
WHAT: Portageville Volunteer Fire Department's Haunted Inn
WHEN: Oct. 20 & 21; Oct. 27-31; and from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 30 is Children's Day (a free event for children to come trick-or-treating).
TIME: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 6 p.m. to midnight on weekends and Halloween
WHERE: on Highway 162, exit 32, if you are on Interstate 55 (across from McDonald's in Portageville)
PRICE: Admission is $5 for children and $7 for adults. Group discounts will be available; it's recommended to call in advance to set up tour time.
OTHER INFO: No one under 12 will be admitted without a guardian. No alcohol or food is permitted. Concessions of popcorn, cotton candy, hamburgers and drinks will be available. All proceeds will go to the Portageville Volunteer Fire and Rescue Equipment Fund. For more information, call (573) 379-5486.