Herald JournalHerald Journal, Feb. 10, 2003

Fire destroys Campbell shed near Winsted

By Ryan Gueningsman

A shed at Jim Campbell's residence just east of Winsted burned to the ground shortlyafter noon last Monday.

The shed, at 2335 Zebra Ave., started on fire while he was repairing a tractor he was using to blow snow.

"The owner had drained the fuel out of the tractor, and was blowing something off. The air nozzle hit something, caused a spark, and ignited the gas that had been drained," said Winsted Fire Chief Chuck Kirby.

The tractor would run for about 10 minutes, then shut off again, Campbell said. "I knew it was a gas feed problem, so I tried to pour in some antifreeze, and that didn't work."

Campbell tried several things to get the tractor running again. Eventually, he took the gas line off to blow it out with his air compressor. While doing this, some gas fell into a small container that was on the floor. He was in the process of blowing the line out when he accidentally bumped the terminal cable and caused a spark.

"It immediately ignited," Campbell said. "There were some papers on the floor by that container and that all started to burn.

"For some reason, the garage door opened, giving it more oxygen, and it really took off. It was one big ball of flames."

By the time the fire department arrived, the shed was fully engulfed, Kirby said.

"With the snow, we were not able to set up everything like we normally would have," Kirby said, "but it was a pretty basic fire."

The department sent 12 to 15 guys and five trucks, and was at the scene about two-and-a-half hours. No mutual aid was called.

Campbell was taken by ambulance to the Watertown Clinic to be checked for dizziness and chest pains.

"I took in some smoke and was probably a little exhausted from trying to put the fire out," Campbell said. He came back home that same afternoon in good health.

The one lesson Campbell said he learned from this was to keep a fire extinguisher right there in the shed.

"If I didn't have to run back to the house for it, I probably could have contained it," he said.

Campbell said he "is definitely planning on re-building that shed."

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