Fire History

Gordon Fire Department Fire

By: Larse Ausing

 

In the early afternoon hours of September 19, 2013, a fire broke out in the Gordon Fire Department in Gordon, Wisconsin. Several small explosions were heard coming from the building. The explosions were thought to have come from oxygen tanks and other equipment in the building. The fire was originally thought to be started by a lightning strike, but the storm the lightning came with was proven to have started after the fire. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

Many important pieces of machinery were lost including six trucks; two engines, two tenders, and two brush trucks. A snowmobile was also lost in the blaze. The two engines were pulled from the building and had to be extinguished outside. One of the trucks had to have sand dumped on it to extinguish the flames. Although the building was up to date with safety and technology, a sprinkler system was not added to the building. Gordon Fire Chief Mike Chmielecki said, “By the time firefighters arrived, flames were already coming from the building.”  No one was hurt in the fire.

*Information for this article came from the Sawyer County Record and the Duluth News Tribune

Germann Road Fire

By Dominik Rose

The Germann Road fire was one of the largest fires in the past 33 years for Northern Wisconsin. It started at 2:45 pm on May 14, 2013 and ended at 9:00 pm on May 15, 2013.

It burned 7,499 acres of land and destroyed 104 structures. An estimated 350 structures were saved due to fire control efforts. It burned a swath about 10 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. It was started unintentionally by a logging crew. At the start of the fire the temperature was 82o fahrenheit with wind speeds of 12-21 mph. The humidity was 26 percent.

Three fire towers reported smoke and soon after a 911 call DNR fire crews went to the scene. There were high winds and dry conditions which allowed the fire to rapidly spread. There were several evacuations. DNR firefighters, local fire departments, and other federal and state cooperating agencies worked hard to suppress the fire. The blaze was contained in less than 30 hours and thanks to the hard work of many, it resulted in no injuries or fatalities.

*All information in this article came from the wisconsin DNR

Germann RD Fire

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D X A E D B B H I S

Minong 5 Mile Fire

By Haakon Gulbrandsen and Jeffrey Meling

         It was started by a single match, on April 30, 1977.  It lasted for 17 hours.  It started southwest of Nancy Lake and spread northeast and finally was stopped by County Road Y and West Mail Road.  People were having a campfire and the sparks got out and started the fire in the dry grass.  They tried to put it out, but it spread too fast.  The fire reached the pine trees and it took off.  The fire destroyed 13,000 acres of land and 63 buildings.  There were 1,600 people from around the area that helped put out the fire. The people were from Minong, Chicog, Webster, Gordon, Wascott, Hayward, Spooner, Solon Springs, and other communities around the area.  They used a grassy field as a fire headquarters.  It was filled with trucks, school buses, bulldozers on trailers, dump trucks, tanker trucks, fuel trucks, and hundreds of people.

For more information visit:

http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/whspress/books/book.asp?book_id=357

Oak Lake Fire

          The Oak Lake Fire started 11 miles west from Oak Lake.  April 21st and April 22nd 2010 were the 30th anniversary.  A lot of things were damaged. 16,000 acres, 118 homes and cabins, 114 garages, and outbuildings were lost. They estimate 254 buildings were saved.

The fire involved 2,000 firefighters, including 23 departments, 52 D.N.R fire trucks, and 30 D.N.R tractor plows were used. Cabin after cabin were burned down by the fire. One Sun Fish Lake cabin owner who lived far away was stunned to see the smoke. You could see and smell the smoke 90 miles away. Another person saw a wall of flames 300 feet high. Chet Peterson was with the Spooner Volunteer Fire Department. Some people think that the Oak Lake Fire was set on purpose, and others think that it was lit by a spark from an engine. Who knows how it got started? The one lucky thing is that nobody died. One person who was fighting the fire found out later that his house had burned down.

Minong Fire Department 

          The Minong Fire Department was started by Ronny McKee.  He was the first fire chief, Norm Adams and A.E. Adams were a couple of the first volunteers.  They decided to start the fire department to help people in case of a fire or any other emergency.  The first fire truck was a 1917 American La France.  The 2nd Fire Truck was a 1937 Chevy military 4- wheel drive.  The 3rd Fire Truck was a 1956 Ford Pumper.  The 4th Fire Truck was a 1972 Pumper.  The first equipment was paid for by the residents of Minong and used for the safety of the firefighters and to help extinguish the fires.  The fire department started keeping records in 1957, but the department was started long before that.  A few of the first volunteers were John Waggoner, Roy Combs, Carl Nelson, and Ed Gagnow. 

          The department was volunteer only, because at the time the department started, the town of Minong did not have enough money to pay people to stay at the fire hall all day.  The fire department is still today, a volunteer organization.

Minong Ranger Station

            The Minong Ranger Station has been around since 1936, but there has been a ranger station in Minong since at least 1933.  At that time it was in the back of Etchyson’s Tavern (Longbranch).

Ranger stations have been strategically placed all over the state of Wisconsin. They tried to put a station up about every 20 miles. Some reasons why they put a station in Minong are: the location of fire towers, the track of major roadways, and the areas of high fire hazard.

Several theories exist about where the land for the ranger station came from.  Some of these are the Village of Minong or an anonymous person may have donated it.  It was built by the Minong CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). The building hasn’t changed all that much since 1936, but it has gotten a third dormer on the roof. Bill Scott added it for a bedroom space when he lived there full time during the 1970’s.  In 1955, they took off the swinging garage doors.

The trucks, dozers, and technology have changed a lot over the years, but they still have a lot of the same features. In the 80’s they put showers on the dozers to make them safer for the operators. The new equipment was bigger, faster, safer, and more modern with new technology. Aerial technology has changed too. Today they have airplanes that go over the fire and spray foam to put out the fires. Also, the airplanes and helicopters help spot fires in high fire danger times. Pete Paske, a worker in Minong, was the first helicopter manager in the state of Wisconsin.

Prescribed burns, which are controlled burns, are a great way to manage some of our natural resources.  Rangers often perform prescribed burns on barrens in order to keep it from turning into a forest, keep the grouse around, and for regeneration of trees.   During the burn, different tools are used.  One tool that is used is called a flapper. A flapper is a square piece of rubber that rangers would lay across the burning area to control the oxygen and fuels to control the fire.  In the early 1930’s they would start burning in Lampson and let it burn all the way to Minong in order to get blueberries. Then they would collect all of the berries and ship them off by train and car.

Gordon Fire Department Fire

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