UPDATE: Busy 24 hours for River Falls Fire Department
The Thursday night fire first reported as an old barn was actually an abandoned farmhouse…Nothing of value was stored in the house.
The well for the vacated house was still functional and the owners had heat tape around the pressure tank and covered it with straw to keep it from freezing.
The fire’s cause was undetermined. The structure was uninsured.
River Falls firefighters were then kept busy Friday, Jan. 31, with two other blazes:
-- About 1:30 p.m., they responded to a shed fire at 1105 County Road N.
The shed is owned by Galen Thompson.
His son-in-law came home and noticed smoke coming from the shed.
He opened the door and found the shed full of smoke. He could see flames in a corner where a wood stove was located.
The son-in-law had added wood to the stove about two hours earlier.
The shed was actually an old two-story wood granary with a pole shed added to one end and a lean-to on the other end.
The lean-to sustained minor damage. The pole shed was saved.
Firefighters had to get a backhoe in to pull the debris from shed out into the open.
Thompson’s son-in-law had a workshop in the shed. All contents of the shed, lots of tools, kids’ bikes, a snowmobile, and antique hand tools were destroyed.
Initial loss estimates are about $140,000.
Seventeen firefighters were on scene roughly 2 ½ hours. River Falls was assisted by Roberts Fire Department.
-- About 10:30 p.m. River Falls firefighters were paged to a chimney fire at N8552 805th St, town of River Falls.
Owner Kevin Manly was watching TV and noticed a glow outside the window.
When he went out to check he found the side of the house on fire where the chimney from the woodstove came through the wall and up the outside of the house.
Twenty-two firefighters were on scene about four hours.
The blaze got into the space between the ceiling and the roof on a vaulted ceiling.
The peak of the ceiling was about 15 feet high, making it difficult for firefighters to get at, according to Assistant Fire Chief Mike Moody.
There was extensive damage to roughly half the house. Initial estimates are over $200,000.
Ellsworth Fire Department assisted.
Moody said Manly had another place to stay for now.