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Hubbard County house damaged in fire

Tom Drury's ATV is visible in the foreground of his garage; three vehicles were buried under piles of charred rubble. The fire Tuesday evening may have been caused by wiring, Drury theorized. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise

PARK RAPIDS - Tom Drury spent Wednesday waiting for an insurance adjuster.

In a scenario that is becoming all too familiar, firefighters were called Tuesday night to his rural residence. Drury's large double garage was burning.

"I noticed flames about 7:30 p.m. and called the fire department," Drury said. "It only took them 10, 15 minutes to get here which is pretty good considering they had to get everybody together and out here, but it was going pretty good by the time they did," he said.

"About a third of the roof was gone."

The Park Rapids Fire Department, all volunteers, raced to the scene at 18438 Highway 18.

Drury's garage is almost surely a total loss. Strips of vinyl were draped over his yard light after peeling from the facade. The roof was gone. The fate of three vehicles, a four-wheeler and a boat inside the structure was still unknown Wednesday. They were under piles of burned rubble and charred roof pieces.

The Drury fire was the fifth in the region in a little over a month. All five fires, to single family residences, have caused extensive property damage; three lives were lost.

Park Rapids Fire Chief Donn Hoffman said it's not a good sign, but because no single cause links any of the fires, he's at a loss to suggest prevention measures, except to be careful.

"It looks like a couple of them were human error," he said. A house fire last month near Two Inlets was likely caused when the homeowner was repairing a snowmobile in his garage. Sparks from a grinder apparently simmered and ignited something after the homeowner left. The house and garage are a total loss. A vehicle parked near the garage was also totaled.

Last week two residents died in a garage fire near Wolf Lake after being overcome by carbon monoxide fumes from either a wood stove they lit to stay warm, or from the vehicle they were in that was parked in the garage.

A Nevis man also died of carbon monoxide poisoning when his house burned to the ground last week, the day before the Wolf Lake fire. That incident remains under investigation.

Drury believes his garage fire was caused by an electrical source, but Hoffman said the cause is still undetermined.

"I don't know," the fire chief said. "It'd be different if a lot of them were suspect but it isn't" the case.

Drury praised the department's professionalism and speed.

"They were incredible," he said, surveying the soot, ice and melted siding in his yard. "It's quite a mess."

Hoffman hopes for an uneventful spring. Firefighters at the scene of the Drury fire told the homeowner they'd had a busy winter.

Drury, despite his loss and the massive cleanup task facing him, was nevertheless gracious.

"Have a good day," he said, walking across his icy driveway into his house, which was not damaged in the blaze.