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Family escapes fire early Wednesday

The Halik home was not much more than a shell after burning early Wednesday. Firefighters dumped water in a flat area of ground, then pumped it to the truck that was nearest the house. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Brian Halik shudders to think what might have happened if he hadn't gone bowling Tuesday night.

After arriving home, he heard his fireplace crackling.

Only it wasn't the fireplace. It was the walls of his Lake Peysenske home. The fireplace had ignited them.

Three-dozen firefighters and trucks from Park Rapids and Nevis descended on the home at 12:25 a.m. Wednesday. Temperatures were 20 below zero with wind chills nearly 40 below.

The home, at the intersection of Evening Drive and Evening Lane in south central Hubbard County, was totally engulfed. It had taken only moments, Brian Halik said.

The family, Brian, Sarah, three kids and pets, all got out safely.

The Haliks have been besieged with offers of help.

"There are so many people out there that are more deserving," Brian Halik said Thursday.

If people feel the need to donate, they should give to a charity, he urged.

"We are fully insured," he said, "We have a place to live. We went to Walmart that night and bought clothes for the kids. We have replacement" insurance, he said.

That seemed a typical gesture from a man whose family has given generously to the community of Nevis, even founding the annual Easter egg hunt, which attracts hundreds of pre-schoolers from miles around. The couple owns Northwind Grocery in downtown Nevis.

The family is actively involved in many civic events; used to giving, not receiving.

The home is a total loss. The garage was saved. The fire presented logistical problems for firefighters, who had to back trucks down an icy, narrow drive to get to the home.

"We had to call in a grader" to widen the driveway, Park Rapids Fire Chief Donn Hoffman said.

Fire engines had to wait up on Evening Trail because there was no room for them all to get downhill to the scene.

"The cold, the shape of the driveway, the snow," said assistant Park Rapids fire chief Terry Long. "Everything was compounded.

"We ended up more or less shoveling water from one engine to another because we couldn't get the trucks backed down the hill. We were dumping the water on the flat (area) and pumping it down to another tank halfway down where our engine was so we could work on it that way," he said.

Hoffman said Hubbard County's five fire departments are starting to work together on all structure fires.

The chiefs have been regularly meeting for more than a year, working on grants for radio equipment and emergency response supplies.

Hoffman said during those meetings they determined a spirit of cooperation was necessary even though no mutual aid agreement is in place. Nonetheless, Nevis was called in for assistance, and will be more often, Hoffman said.

Brian Halik, a former Nevis firefighter, was in agreement.

And once again, he stressed the family didn't need anything.

"Everybody made it out alive," he said. "We're doing fine."

And there's that momentary thought of what might have been.

"I might have been asleep" instead of bowling.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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