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Gene Kelly

Napan Gene Kelly is all smiles as he takes ownership of a 1949 Dodge Power Wagon fire truck that served at Napa State Hospital in the 1950s. He bought the truck from Rich and Linda Gunn who have owned it since 2010.

Where there is a seller, there is a buyer and, in the case of the Gunns, there couldn’t have been a better match than Gene Kelly.

Linda and Rich Gunn were featured in the Register last month because they wanted to sell a 1949 Dodge Power Wagon that took about a decade to restore. Their price was reasonable: $25,000 for the truck, $2,000 for its trailer.

The catch? They wanted the buyer to be in Napa since the truck had been used at Napa State Hospital in the 1950s and 60s.

Plenty of people called about the truck, but Linda Gunn wasn’t willing to sell it to someone outside of Napa County. Instead she waited. The first person to make an offer didn’t follow through, but then came Gene Kelly, longtime Napa resident and proprietor of Kelly Family Vineyards.

“When they said they wanted it back in Napa, I kinda heard the call,” Kelly said.

It was an easy sell. Kelly saw the truck, saw how much work the Gunns had put into it and offered to pay the asking price.

“What grown guy as a kid didn’t like firetrucks?” Kelly said.

Kelly doesn’t have any connection to the fire service, but his family vineyard is on Linda Vista Avenue where, nine months ago, the hillside burned and evacuations took place on nearby Dry Creek Road.

The Power Wagon, which is geared low and only hits a top speed of about 35 mph, was designed specifically for wildfire response, he said.

“I’m happy to have been able to bring it back to Napa,” Kelly said.

“What grown guy as a kid didn’t like firetrucks?” Gene Kelly

Public Safety Reporter

Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She covers breaking news as well as crime and courts. Maria came to the Napa Valley Register in 2015 after working as a reporter and photographer at The Daily News in Jacksonville, NC.