Firefighters protect St. Johns Church and more
Park Rapids Fire Department and Minnesota DNR personnel responded Saturday to a grass fire that spread into pine trees west of Helten Ave., between Century School and St. Johns Lutheran Church.
According to Second Assistant Fire Chief Bob Meier, the fire's ignition source was unconfirmed as of Monday morning.
"It started on the edge of that field and burned into the pine trees," said Meier. "We responded for structure protection, and DNR also responded, and we put out that grass fire."
Meier said an area approximately the size of a football field was burned.
The fire was first reported to Hubbard County dispatch at 5:56 p.m. Between the two responding agencies, approximately 20 firefighters and eight apparatus responded to the call.
Meier said the southerly wind was strong enough to raise concern, "so we responded with a plethora of our equipment to make sure it didn't threaten the church."
It took approximately 45 minutes to put the fire out, he said, adding, "It wasn't too bad. It was in the trees, so that knocked the wind down. It did climb the trees, so ... instead of just a ground fire, we had some overhead stuff to put out. But it was pretty minimal.
"Luckily, we could still make access from the school side, going between the tennis courts. We could get a couple units in that way, and that helped a lot, so we could (spray from) upwind and downwind."
Mutual aid on Belle Taine
At approximately 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Park Rapids Fire Department personnel assisted Nevis Volunteer Fire and Rescue for a Belle Taine Lake blaze that started in a wood pile and burned an area Meier described as "about half the size of a baseball diamond."
"The guy said he was grilling the night before, and maybe some of the charcoal had caused an ignition source to the woodpile," said Meier. "That was fairly close to the structure, but luckily the wind was pushing the fire away from the structure."
Considering the high winds on Sunday, he said, it was also lucky that "the house was blocking the wind from pushing it too far."
Later Sunday evening, approximately 20 firefighters responded to a report of a power line down at a residence on Huntsinger Ave., north of the Park Rapids-Walker Eye Clinic.
Personnel arriving at the scene found a cable dangling from a pole, draped over a phone box and lying across the yard. One of the volunteer firefighters, an employee of Itasca-Mantrap Electrical Co-op, confirmed that the line was actually a coaxial cable, possibly for cable TV.
"We finished laying the line out," Meier said, "so no one would trip on it or step on it (until) someone could come and repair the line."
In summary, Meier noted, "Our department is showing out in force for every call we get, and that's a good thing."
He warned that Monday's snowfall may not be the end of the spring fire danger for the area.
"There's definitely some moisture in the ground now," he said, "but until everything is green, we're still not going to have a reduced fire danger just because there was snow today. If it dries up a lot before it greens up, we could still have an issue."