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Ogema fire kills dog, destroys outbuilding

A late-night fire in Ogema on Tuesday killed a pet dog and destroyed a shop/storage building.

The fire at 425 Kolb Street was apparently caused by a wood stove, and the dog -- a Rottweiler -- was kenneled near the stove for warmth, according to Ogema Fire Chief Joe McArthur.

The building, a 1940s-era structure that McArthur said looked like an old garage, was one of several on the grounds. It had a tin roof over shingles, and once the fire got into the roof it became very difficult to extinguish, since the roof could not safely support the weight of firefighters, he said.

Firefighters from Ogema, White Earth and Waubun spent about 13 hours on the scene, because hot spots kept flaring up -- the garage held a good deal of stored lumber.

"We used water and foam to put it out," McArthur said. "There were piles of lumber, and we just covered everything with foam, but the hot spots flared up several times."

Firefighters received the call at 11:17 p.m. "We spent probably 13 hours out there between the night and the day," McArthur said.

They finally decided to let it burn and focused on protecting two other nearby outbuildings and the house, which was further away, about 20 yards. The structure that burned was surrounded by the other buildings.

Help from fire departments in Waubun and White Earth was essential, he said. With a smaller fire department, it can be hard to get enough people together for a sustained effort, since many are out of town or have work responsibilities.

"It was a good volunteer effort by them," McArthur said.

The blaze gave firefighters their first opportunity to use the new water hydrants in Ogema, which McArthur said were installed less than a year ago as part of a project that brought city water to Ogema from White Earth village.

"It really helped us save the other structures," he said. "Without the hydrants we would have had to shuttle water -- it would have been hard to protect those other buildings."

The mutual aid response brought larger equipment into Ogema, where the fire department is limited because of the small size of its fire hall, located in a former creamery building.

McArthur said that problem will be solved with the forthcoming construction of a new fire department on the north side of town.