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Blast levels first responder building on Wisconsin island

Crews examine the remains of the La Pointe Fire Hall on Madeline Island on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. A firefighter reported an explosion at the hall around 2:30 a.m., just before a fire broke out and destroyed the building. Samantha Erkkila / Forum News Service

LA POINTE, Wis. — An explosion and fire early Wednesday morning, March 6, leveled the building that housed a fire department and ambulance service on a small Wisconsin island on Lake Superior.

No one was injured in the blast on Madeline Island, though a police officer had left the building less than two hours before, said Red Cliff Fire Chief Jeff Hood, whose department provided aid at the scene. The building has sleeping quarters for the Town of La Pointe’s police officers.

A neighbor who also is a La Pointe firefighter reported the explosion at 2:50 a.m., said Lisa Potswald, La Pointe town administrator.

Madeline Island is about 100 miles east of Duluth.

Currently, the ice road between Madeline Island and Bayfield is open. If it hadn’t been, the officer would have been sleeping in the building at the time of the blast, Potswald said.

Potswald declined to speculate on the cause of the blast, which remains under investigation, though she said there were vehicles parked inside the building with gas in their tanks.

There were about seven fire vehicles and two ambulances in the fire department building, Potswald said, including a new ambulance that the department received in November.

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