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Osage off-sale burns

Byer's Liquor Store in Osage burned in a fire that started Sunday night and rekindled early Monday morning after firefighters thought it had been extinguished. (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

A fire that had apparently been put out flared up a second time early Monday morning and destroyed Byer's Liquor in Osage.

According to owners Kevin and Christy Byer, the fire was apparently kindled by heat from a halogen bulb inadvertently left on in the crawl space under the off-sale store, where work was being done to prepare the building for the winter.

Fire Chief Mike Harvey with Carsonville Fire and Rescue said the cause of the fire is still under investigation by the state fire marshal.

Christy Byer said they received a report at about 11:15 p.m. on Sunday that smoke was seen coming out of the store. Responding to the alarm were both stations of the Carsonville Fire Department (Osage and Ponsford) and the Wolf Lake and Park Rapids fire departments.

Harvey, who lives near the fire scene, recalled the first page went out at 11:10 p.m.

"I was on scene within three or four minutes, and the engine was not too far behind me," he said. "I'm going to guess within seven, eight minutes total."

"They fought the fire for a couple hours," said Byer. "It looked like it was out. Everything was done, and we all went home. It re-ignited about 45 minutes after we had left here. When we got back, it was totally engulfed in flame in the ceiling and roof area."

Harvey said fire personnel cleared the scene after the first incident at about 2 a.m. and received the second page at 2:49 a.m. "Most of us had just left the fire station, so we were able to turn around within a minute and get back there."

Park Rapids, Osage and Ponsford firefighters fought the fire a second time. According to Kevin Byer, they sprayed approximately 54,000 gallons on the fire.

Harvey said two engines, a ladder truck and four tenders were used to fight the fire. In addition to Park Rapids and Wolf Lake personnel, he said, "there were about 14 of my guys there."

Christy said firefighters on a ladder truck aimed hoses at the roof from above. "The ceiling had caved in, so firefighters couldn't get through the door safely to fight it from underneath," she said.

"That was our main way of attack because of safety issues inside the building," Harvey explained.

"Everybody did what they could," said Byer. "They were here quickly and worked well together. The departments were great."

Although the store's external walls remained standing, the roof was down and the building appeared to be a total loss.

"The community has been offering help, calling, stopping by," said Christy. "We always have good support here, with the Osage community."

Christy Byer said their insurance agent and a state fire marshal have visited the scene, and Byers were expecting an insurance adjuster. The couple said they plan to rebuild the store.

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