By Ryan Gueningsman
Fire destroyed a million-dollar home on Polo Club Road in Independence the afternoon of July 27.
The fire was called in just before noon, and when Officer Stephanie Heupel from West Hennepin Public Safety (WHPS) arrived, she observed flames coming out of the roof in the center portion of the residence on the outside wall.
“Upon Officer Heupel’s arrival, bystanders from the Polo Club, who were at a Frisbee event, and had reported the fire, had already pounded on the doors and windows and advised no one had come out,” said WHPS director Ray McCoy.
It was quickly confirmed by the neighbors that the homeowners, Tony Hallada and his family, were out of town. The homeowners were located and notified of the house fire, and they confirmed no one was at home and all pets were out of the house.
“They were out of state, approximately five hours away by car,” said Maple Plain Fire Chief Nathan Jerde. “I believe they were contacted by their alarm company, and then, as neighbors and family members were alerted to this, they were contacted again.”
Jerde said that, not only the size of the house, but also the heat and humidity of the afternoon made this a difficult fire to fight.
“Due to the high heat and humidity, the assistance from the neighboring fire departments helped relieve the firefighters and alleviate the risk of heat exhaustion,” Jerde said. “Notification of everyone being out of the house allowed us to focus on fire suppression and preservation of property.”
He also added that water had to be “tanked” to the residence, and said he was grateful to the other departments that assisted Maple Plain under mutual aid agreements, including Delano, Mound, Loretto, Long Lake, St. Bonifacius, Watertown, Rockford, and Hanover.
“We had, I would say, between 50 and 60 firefighters there,” Jerde said. “We were very pleased with the response of our mutual aid partners with regard to providing water and personnel. This is a good example of our mutual aid agreement and how that works.”
Jerde said that with that number of firefighters assisting at the scene, he was glad there were no injuries reported or no equipment damaged.
The Hennepin County Fire Investigation Team and State Fire Marshal’s Office are assisting WHPS with the investigation as to the cause of the fire. Jerde said the cause is unknown at this time,, but said it is not being considered suspicious.
The Maple Plain Fire Department cleared the scene at about 6:30 p.m.