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Chief: Many fires in 2012, but not as many as 2011

Published 10:55am Friday, January 4, 2013

While calls for service and fires were down from the previous year, 2012 was still a busy year for Fergus Falls firefighters.

The Fergus Falls Fire Department responded to 236 calls for service in 2012. This is higher than the average number of about 200 but down from 2011’s record-setting year of 265.

Thirty of the calls turned out to be fires, seven of which were home fires, three were apartment fires and four were business fires.

The total dollar loss for the year amounted to about $1 million. In 2011, that number came to around $1.4 million, and in 2010, the total loss was approximately $1.06 million.

“That’s high. I would say we have had a busy year but not our busiest,” said fire chief Mark Hovland. “As far as homes go, we only really lost one house. Otherwise, the most severe loss was the apartment.”

Fergus Falls saw a rare fatality due to a fire at the Sunrise Apartments June 26 after oxygen tanks exploded.

“I wish I could say fire safety is improving, but when you had a fatality, it’s hard to say you had a good year,” Hovland said. “There’s still a need for us to be out there preaching fire prevention and bringing the message home to people that fires are a danger, and we still have to take precautions.”

After the apartment fire, which amounted to about $350,000 in damage, the next most costly fire was at Mark Sand and Gravel. This fire accounted for about a quarter of the year’s $1 million loss.

A bright spot for the Fergus Falls Fire Department was the second half of the year. Numbers were on track to be higher than 2011, but a relatively slow fall and holiday season helped considerably, Hovland said.

“The time between Christmas and New Year’s is (typically) our busiest time,” he said. “We were actually quiet.”

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