By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Wednesday afternoon proved a busy one for the Lester Prairie Fire Department and other area departments who were called in to assist with two fires that were burning at the same time.
It began shortly after 3:30 p.m. when the department was called to the Harry Fenske residence at 16229 Babcock Avenue, south of Lester Prairie.
Lester Prairie Fire Chief Jim Hoof said he called in the Winsted Fire Department for assistance right away.
Hoof said the fire started behind a wood stove in the residence, and quickly spread up the wall. He explained that the house was built with balloon frame construction, and once the fire got inside the wall, it traveled quickly up to the second floor nearly to the attic.
The blaze resulted in significant damage, and Hoof noted that the residence will be uninhabitable.
There were no injuries in the fire, which Hoof said is fortunate, especially considering the amount of ice that was present due to the amount of water needed and the frigid temperatures.
Hoof said in addition to the ice, the cold weather caused masks and air pieces to freeze up as soon as firefighters emerged from the structure.
Hoof said eight minutes after the first call came in, the department received another page for a fire at a residence on 175th Street southwest of Lester Prairie.
Hoof called in the Plato Fire Department to handle that call, with New Germany for backup.
The fire started in a wood pile near the residence, but other than losing some firewood, there was no damage to the residence.
“Plato did a good job for us,” Hoof said.
Hoof said a brush pile was burned on the property on Saturday, and it is possible that even though it had appeared to be out, the wind on Wednesday may have ignited an ember and caused the fire in the woodpile.
When the second fire was under control, the Plato Fire Department sent manpower to assist with the fire at 16229 Babcock Avenue, and the New Germany Fire Department manned the Lester Prairie fire hall in case another call came in.
Hoof said the Glencoe Fire Department sent its air van, which was used to refill air packs used by the firefighters.
Lester Prairie cleared the scene of the first fire at about 7:30 p.m., and Plato cleared the scene of the second fire just after 5:30 p.m., Hoof said.