A house on Lake Maud was severely damaged in an early morning fire today, Aug. 22. Nobody was injured.

The man and woman who lived there woke up to smoke alarms shortly before 5 a.m., could see the flames, and escaped the burning house with their dog, said Audubon Fire Chief Chris Wiedenmeyer. He declined to identify the married couple, but said the house at 20584 County Road 22 was used as a year-round residence, not a summer home.

The fire is believed to have started in a can that was used as a makeshift ashtray on the lakeside deck. The can was near a wall, the contents of the can started on fire, and the blaze spread to the vinyl siding and then to the roof, Wiedenmeyer said. That’s actually a fairly common way for fires to start, he said.

The fire damage appeared to be the worst on the east side of the one-story wood-frame house, but there was smoke and water damage throughout the structure, which the fire chief considers a total loss.

“A large portion of the roof is gone and we had to pull the ceiling down to get at (the fire),” Wiedenmeyer said. “It had been burning for awhile before they woke up -- they could see the flames."

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The house is on the south side of Lake Maud, on the stretch of County Road 22 between Lake Maud and Lake Eunice.

Firefighters from Detroit Lakes and Lake Park provided mutual aid, and after a tanker truckload of water from each of the three departments had been used to fight the flames, big pumps were set up to bring water straight from the lake.

Medical crews from Essentia Health-St. Mary’s EMS in Detroit Lakes and Audubon Rescue also responded. Audubon firefighters were on the scene until 11:30 a.m.

“Be careful when disposing of cigarettes -- and hot ashes, as we get closer to the heating season,” Wiedenmeyer said. “They cause more fires than people know.”