Less than four months after the completion of an extensive, multimillion-dollar renovation on Margate’s historic firehouse, a woman drove her vehicle right through it.

Dolores Ringold, 78, of Cherry Hill, Camden County, last Wednesday crashed her vehicle into the garage door of Margate’s main firehouse at Ventnor and Washington avenues, Margate Fire Chief Anthony Tabasso said. She continued through the door, veered left and hit an interior wall, he said.

Ringold also ran into and destroyed a turnout gear rack, which the firefighters used to hang their uniforms on, and a portable water pump.

Tabasso said the fire company is working to get an estimate on the cost of the damage so they can have it fixed, which they hope to have figured out by the end of this week. In the meantime, the garage door has been temporarily replaced while they wait on a permanent replacement. The building is operable.

“In my opinion, we were incredibly lucky,” he said.

At the time of the accident, Margate’s firefighters were out of the building at a training drill. The firetruck that would have been parked behind the garage door was with them.

“Had they been there, she would have crashed right into the truck, and, who knows, if someone was walking around in there, they could have been killed,” Tabasso said. “We often have kids hanging out in there with their parents checking out the equipment. It could have been much worse.”

The cause of the accident is under investigation. Immediately afterward, Ringold was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus, Atlantic City, for treatment and was released later that day. She had been alone in the vehicle.

The $2 million renovation of the 101-year-old firehouse was completed over 21 months and reopened in early-May.

The accident is “just an inconvenience now,” Tabasso said. “I’m just happy no one was hurt.”

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More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.