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NOAA Special Weather Statement: Critical fire conditions

Fire destroys home, truck near Two Inlets Friday night

The fire Friday night at the home of Bruce Weaver was the second house fire in Hubbard County in a two-week period that resulted in a total loss. An Akeley family lost their home Jan. 28. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Updated Wednesday

Twenty firefighters brought five trucks to rural Hubbard County Friday night, trying to contain a blazing house fire.

"It was a large structure, 2,500 square feet, I'm guessing," said Park Rapids Fire Chief Donn Hoffman. "It's a good-sized house and it was fully involved when we got there.

"When it gets that hot you can't put enough water on them," he said.

The home on Image Drive is a total loss. The house is owned by Bruce Weaver. He was not home at the time, but arrived on a snowmobile while firefighters were on the scene, Hoffman said. The home is on Hay Creek, which runs through the neighborhood, between Park Rapids and Two Inlets. A neighbor called in the fire sometime around 5:30 p.m.

Hoffman said the fire appeared to have started in an attached garage and spread quickly to the adjoining house.

A pickup truck just outside of the garage is a total loss; a van sitting next to it was removed before it was heavily damaged.

Crews were on the scene nearly five hours trying to extinguish the blaze, Hoffman said. The fire "was extremely hot."

A state fire marshal happened to be in the area and did offer his help when he learned of the call, Hoffman said. The fire marshal found "no cause for suspicion."

Hoffman said the fire marshal, based on interviews at the scene, believes Weaver and friends were working on a snowmobile in the garage sometime in the hours before the fire and sparks from a grinder may have ignited something. But Hoffman said at this point, that's just a theory.

Firefighters returned to the scene Saturday when cinders re-ignited. Crews spread foam on the structure that time, Hoffman said.

"It used to be in the olden days when we had fires and the fire marshal was going to investigate we never used fire foam on them because they felt it was a little harder to determine causes," Hoffman said. "So we didn't use foam when we went up there" the first time.

After consulting with the fire marshal on the scene, Hoffman said, "in the future we will always use it. It makes a big difference."

The use of foam has been under scrutiny lately by state environmental officials, Hoffman said.

A type of foam used to fight fires contains a class of chemicals known as perfluorochemicals (PFCs). Although it's been found effective, especially in fighting petroleum spills and fires that threaten public safety, recent findings indicate repeated use of these foams has caused the appearance of PFCs in soils and groundwater.

Hoffman said he can't be sure his department hasn't used these "Class B" foams in the past, but it doesn't now.

Class A foams, considered non-toxic, are what most departments now use for structures and wildland fires.

Last year the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) began soil and water testing at locations where firefighting foams were used in training throughout the state. The MPCA and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), which oversees safe drinking water standards, identified several sites for further testing this year.

The testing will include soil, groundwater and sediment analysis and testing drinking-water samples from private wells and from public water suppliers.

The closest locations where the testing will occur are in Bemidji and Perham.