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A number of families have been displaced by the weekend fire.

Fire damages New Richmond apartment building

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Crews from three fire departments were called to New Richmond on Sunday, July 8, to battle a structure fire at 651 Monette Ave.

According to Jim VanderWyst, New Richmond fire chief, it wasn't the size of the fire that was the problem, it was the heat.

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"It was extremely hot for the firefighters and a huge stress on their bodies," he said.

The call came in at about 5:30 p.m. When firefighters arrived on scene, they discovered a storage shed had ignited, VanderWyst said. Because of the close proximity of the apartment building, the fire spread into the roofs of two apartments.

To help relieve the amount of work in the extreme heat, VanderWyst said crews from both Roberts and Hudson were called to aid. River Falls firefighters assisted by moving a truck and crew to Roberts to provide protection while local firefighters were out.

"Overall, we had about 45 firefighters here," he said.

The building houses five apartments, VanderWyst said. Of those, only one apartment was undamaged. The other four were declared unlivable -- due to fire or water damage -- and the tenants were moved to temporary shelters, provided by the American Red Cross.

Also responding to the fire was New Richmond Area Ambulance Service. Crews were on scene for about two and one-half hours.

"They were watching over us like mother hens," VanderWyst said. "They played an important role in monitoring us in the heat."

Just days before the July 8 fire, crews responded to the same address to extinguish a pavilion that had been ignited. It's unclear whether the two fires are related, VanderWyst said. Fire crews, along with New Richmond Police, are investigating.

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