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UPDATE: Fire destroys mobile home

Smoke was thick in this mobile home fire Thursday north of Izzo’s. The blaze totally destroyed the home, left four cats and two dogs dead and left a young family homeless and without possessions. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

A wood burning stove is believed to be responsible for a fire that destroyed a mobile home and killed several pets Thursday a few miles west of Detroit Lakes.

A young couple, Kyler Groft and Courtney Goettel, lived in the home, along with a child, Goettel said in an email.

The home is owned by a relative who works as a long-haul trucker and stayed there occasionally, according to Becker County Sheriff’s Sgt. Shane Richard.

The home is located straight north of Izzo’s bar, on the other side of the BNSF railway tracks that run alongside Highway 10.

Nobody was home at 10:45 a.m., when the fire was reported, and six pets are believed to have died in the fire.

Firefighters found the bodies of two dogs and two cats in the home, and two other cats are missing, said Audubon Fire Chief Darcy Savig.

One of the dogs had been rescued from an abusive home, making its death especially difficult for its new owner, said Richard.

The fire in the older-model single-wide mobile home was relatively advanced when it was reported by a passerby who noticed the smoke, Savig said.

“The fire was burning inside there for a little while,” Savig said. “It doesn’t take long in a trailer house.” Some mobile homes are built with wood paneling instead of drywall, and with all the wood inside, “it doesn’t take long for the walls to go,” he said.

Audubon firefighters spent three hours fighting the fire, a battle complicated by near-zero temperatures. Detroit Lakes firefighters provided mutual aid.

“My guys’ air packs were freezing up, they had to go into the (Audubon Fire and Rescue) rig to warm up,” Savig said.

Fire crews pumped about 13,000 gallons onto the blaze, and all that water combined with the sub-freezing temperatures made for icy conditions.

“You go in there and fight the fire, get all wet, and come out a big popsicle,” he said.

In those conditions, a trickle of water must be left running when a hose isn’t being used, or the nozzle freezes up.

“You’re working in slippery conditions —gloves iced up, equipment iced up, tools iced up … your air packs freeze up if they’re not kept warm,” he said.

The fire is believed to have started in a wood stove located in a lean-to addition to the mobile home. Most of the home was lost to fire, but the back bedroom suffered only major smoke damage, Savig said.

“Be careful with wood stoves,” he said. “Keep the combustibles away from them, and if you do get one, have it professionally installed. The weak link is usually where the chimney exits the house — it gets so hot in that area.”

Tanker trucks and dump tanks are used to fight rural fires.

The Audubon Fire Department’s main engine can carry 1,000 gallons of water, and its tanker trucks can carry 3,000 gallons.

The department also uses 2,500-gallon drop tanks to hold water.

In this case, the drop tank was set up at the bottom of the driveway, since there was not enough level ground for it up near the house.

“Detroit Lakes (firefighters) relay-pumped to our engine, that worked pretty good,” Savig said.

The local Red Cross is involved in helping the occupants, who are now homeless as the mobile home is considered a total loss.

“They lost pretty much everything in the fire,” Richard said.