VERNDALE — A property owner sitting on his riding lawn mower was treated for smoke inhalation Sunday, May 16, following a grass fire northeast of Verndale.

The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office was called at 12:46 p.m. to a grass fire in section 18 of Thomastown Township. Upon arrival, it appeared a large section of grass to the north of the residence was actively burning, including a large pile of railroad ties. The Verndale and Staples fire departments, along with the Minnesota DNR, were on scene for two hours battling the fire.

Verndale Fire Department personnel located the property owner, who was sitting on his riding lawn mower, and he appeared to have been suffering from smoke inhalation along with complaints of difficulty breathing, the sheriff’s office reported. Shortly thereafter, Lakewood Health System emergency medical technicians arrived on scene and treated the property owner. The property owner was then transported to Lakewood Health System in Staples for non-life-threatening injuries.

Law enforcement was advised by the fire department that the property owner mentioned he started a small burn pile that got out of control. The property owner was issued a citation for illegal burning.

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