Local firemen fight wildfirePublished 11:03am Thursday, May 16, 2013
The scale of the wildfire near Menahga was unlike anything Dean Anderson has ever experienced.
“I’ve never been involved in anything like this before,” said Anderson, the Fergus Falls Fire Department captain who has assisted on many fires during his career. “I really don’t know if we’ve even been involved in wild fires like this before.”
Firefighters worked this week to contain the Green Valley fire, which started on private land during windy weather Tuesday afternoon, about two miles northwest of Menahga. The fire destroyed more than 50 buildings as it scorched about 7,100 acres.
Fergus Falls Fire Chief Mark Hovland, who is also a regional representative for the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association, was contacted Tuesday evening to send 10 engines and 10 water tankers to help, since the resources from Becker, Hubbard and Wadena counties were all tapped out.
Area departments that responded included Pelican Rapids, Ottertail, Vergas, Pequot Lakes, Pine River, Cross Lake, Ideal Township, Alexandria, Forada, Foley, Bemidji and Moorhead.
It was really a massive coordination, Hovland said, because Otter Tail County had its share of fires as well.
“It was a busy day for the county,” Hovland said. “We were stretched kind of thin that day.”
Four Fergus Falls firefighters and one truck left Tuesday evening and were on duty in the Menagha area from about midnight to 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to Anderson. They relieved many firefighters who had already battled the fire for most of the day. Their primary task was to check for burning structures, Anderson said.
“All we did was kind of hit the hot spots and knock it down,” Anderson said.
Fire managers said Wednesday evening the fire had destroyed 12 residences, two commercial properties and 41 outbuildings.
Fergus firefighters saw some of the destruction firsthand. They came across a residence and shed on their first assignment.
“And they were totally destroyed,” Anderson said.
Fergus Falls, Vining, Perham and Dent fire departments are scheduled to send more help tonight, if necessary.