Firefighters battle wildfire in Mission Township
“They thought it was fine, but it wasn’t fine,” Mission Fire Chief Eric Makowski Budrow said. “The wind picked up and started all the buildings that were around it on fire.”
MERRIFIELD — Firefighters with Mission Fire and Rescue had their work cut out for them Wednesday, April 22, when they responded to a wildfire threatening buildings.
The fire was reported at 12:40 p.m. on the 14000 block of Pine Trail Road, which is just east of Horseshoe Lake and north of Merrifield in Mission Township. The fire consisted of several small fires throughout the property with burning piles of brush, debris, lumber and appliances.
Mission Fire Chief Eric Makowski Budrow said there were so many piles burning that firefighters were expecting to be on scene until dark to make sure all the hot spots were extinguished.
“We’re going to be here a long time pulling all these piles apart and spraying them down and cutting down trees and it will be hours and hours of overhaul,” Makowski Budrow said.
The fire chief said once on scene he learned a man and woman were occupying an old, dilapidated schoolhouse structure and had wood burning in a stove. Makowski Budrow said embers from the fire fell out of the wood stove, onto a piece of cardboard and the occupants picked up the cardboard of embers and threw it outside.
“They thought it was fine, but it wasn’t fine,” Makowski Budrow said. “The wind picked up and started all the buildings that were around it on fire.”
The fire spread to several debris piles full of garbage, lumber, tires and appliances around the property. There were also a few small sheds, a camper, lawn mowers and appliances that burned.
There were 15 firefighters on scene, along with wildland firefighters from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, fighting the fire — saving the old schoolhouse and a neighboring garage.
“We had a really good response to this call and we were next to our water supply so things went well,” Makowski Budrow said. “We have more firefighters responding to calls as people are laid off and are home. Normally we would have called for mutual aid, but we didn’t have to.”
No one was injured in the fire.
The Brainerd lakes area along with a large portion of the state continued to be in a moderate fire danger, which means fires may start from most accidental causes, and open-cured grassland may burn briskly and spread rapidly on windy days, the DNR reported.
The DNR is enforcing burning restrictions with variance permits for several counties in the state including Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Todd and Wadena.
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