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VIDEO: Fire destroys Hawley house as five departments respond

HAWLEY, Minn. — Five area fire departments responded to a house fire Monday afternoon on what was originally reported as an out-of-control grass fire encroaching near a propane tank.

Around 4:35 p.m. Monday, April 17, emergency crews were sent to 26586 28th Ave S., just southeast of Hawley. Dispatchers quickly reported that the grass fire involved a structure and crews called to activate the Salvation Army as they worked to extinguish the fire.

“It did start on the outside and burned some grass,” said Justin Martin, Hawley Area Fire Department Chief. “It wasn't like they were burning off the yard and it got away from them. Something originated on the exterior of the house,” but the homeowners don’t know what.

Martin said a 10-by-10 foot area was burned on the west side of the house that quickly climbed the vinyl siding of the house. It snuck all the way into the attic with a double roof and into floor joist areas between the first and second floors that made the fire difficult to access, he said.

“We had to cut through the roof in multiple spots. The old roof was built over the top of the roof so there was fire inside those. That was what we struggled with the most trying to get at the fire,” he said. “There were three spots we were trying to access, that’s why we called so much mutual aid. We were short on manpower trying to cut open areas and access it.”

Martin’s rough estimate was about 35 crew members on scene and around a dozen trucks.

When they first showed up on scene, crews saw lot of flames, Martin said. Smoke billowed from the holes in the roof and crews ripped off shingles and water began pouring off the roof and onto the porch.

It’s unknown how much damage was caused by fire and water, but if Martin were to guess, he would say the home is a “complete loss.”

“There’s a lot of structural damage to both floors and the roof, a lot of water and smoke damage.”

But there were no injuries to the homeowners or firefighters, he added.

The last engine left the scene at 8 p.m. that night, though a crew was still there on fire watch.

Responding to the fire were the Clay County Sheriff’s Department, F-M Ambulance and fire departments from Barnesville, Glyndon, Hitterdal, Lake Park and Hawley. The Northern Division of the Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services set up a station at the property as well.

Martin said the fire remains under investigation to determine what caused the fire outside near the home. The deputy fire marshal is expected to be at the scene tomorrow or Thursday.

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