April 30, 2007

Cokato Fire Department responds to more than fires

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The Cokato Fire Department started after a terrible fire burned downtown Cokato in July 1883. Firefighters purchased their first fire engine in 1888 and built a wood water tower soon after, so they would have plenty of water to fight future fires.

The Cokato Fire Department formally organized in 1896, well over 100 years ago. They’ve fought numerous fires since then, including a fire at Cokato High School in 1917, a garage fire in 1919 that destroyed 15 motor vehicles, and another downtown fire that burned First National Bank, a drug store, and a doctor’s office.

There were even three mystery fires in Cokato schools in December of 1937. The Cokato Hotel burned down in 1977.

Now, the Cokato Fire Department responds to a lot more than fires. The range of calls in 2006 included car accidents, downed power cables, fires, gas leaks, and many other emergencies.

The department’s response area includes Stockholm Township, Cokato Township, the City of Cokato, and half of French Lake Township. The department responds to more than 65 calls per year.

It has a roster of 24 active members. Mike Holmquist is fire chief, and Ken Bakke is assistant chief.

The City of Cokato also operates an ambulance service, with director Jim Erickson.

The number for the fire barn is (320) 286-2452, although if there is an emergency, call 911.

The fire hall is located on Jenks Avenue in Cokato. Correspondence should be sent to PO Box 1030, Cokato, MN 55321.

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