Two homes lost in fires in Hubbard County this week
By Sarah Smith
A rural Nevis couple lost everything Wednesday night in an inferno that two fire departments battled in subzero conditions.
East Hubbard County, the Akeley Fire Department, and Nevis Fire Department, were not able to save the home of James and Remy Tauber, off 190th Street.
A fire Thursday consumed a mobile home in Hubbard County the following day in Hart Lake Township.
According to Nevis Fire Chief Kerry Swenson, the first call came in just before 6 p.m. at the Tauber home. He said the retired couple “just barely escaped the flames.”
The fire was started by a heat lamp used to keep the family pets warm.
Akeley Fire Chief Lee Johnson said 18-22 firefighters and eight trucks braved the conditions until after 9 p.m.
“It was cold,” Johnson said.
Complicating the already difficult task was poor access to the house and a line of cars parked between the driveway and home.
“We really lucked out. There was just enough room to get back there,” Johnson said.
Everything that could have gone wrong did. Firefighters ran out of water numerous times as they jockeyed trucks in and out of the driveway.
Akeley called Nevis in under a mutual aid agreement, Swenson said. White Oak Township is in Akeley’s zone of coverage.
Pumps froze, fingers froze.
“All the tankers froze up before we were done,” Johnson said.
“Everything freezes and no matter how much you try to keep water moving,” the metal hose parts freeze, Swenson said.
Akeley responds to around six structure fires a year, but it varies, Johnson said.
“We prefer it when it’s warmer,” he deadpanned.
Swenson took the couple to a Park Rapids motel and planned to meet with them Thursday to gauge their needs. They were uninsured, he said. The department has a small fund to aid fire victims, Swenson said, but it’s not a large amount.
All the animals but one cat was saved. Firefighters were called back to the scene Friday morning when a hot spot flared back up.
Thursday afternoon Lakeport and Lake George firefighters battled – and lost – a fire at a mobile home in Hart Lake Township.
Although temps were above zero, firefighting crews were still cursed by lack of water, proper hose fittings, manpower and access to the scene off 315th Avenue.
The house was a total loss. Crews at the scene said the female homeowner was “on her way to the hospital,” but it was not clear if she was injured or being seen as a precaution. Her name was not available by the time the Enterprise went to press Friday morning.