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Heat from Oronoco fire presents problems for firefighters

Three fire departments worked together to battle the blaze that did $800,000 in damage.

Rochester, Oronoco and Pine Island Fire crews respond as a structure fire erupts near the intersection of 11th Avenue and 85th Street Northwest on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, near Oronoco. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Traci Westcott

ORONOCO — Heat from a Tuesday blaze in an Oronoco Township pole shed twice drove firefighters from the building before they were finally able to gain entry and fight it from the inside.

David Friese of the Pine Island Fire Department, who served as incident commander for the fire in the 8500 block of 11th Avenue Northwest, said the fire had been going for some time before a call from dispatch came in at 11:34 a.m. Tuesday. Firefighters were then on the scene at the property where a 55- by 120-foot shop was ablaze next to a residence on the property.

"The main home was approximately 20 yards from shed," Friese said. "The heat was so intense, the siding sustained heat damage. We put a hose line on the house to keep the heat down and from doing more damage."

Inside the pole shed were several passenger vehicles including pickups, a golf cart and a John Deere utility tractor as well as construction equipment, including a forklift. The shed contained a bathroom, Friese said. There were also flammable materials inside, including fuel tanks for the forklift and many aerosol paint cans.

"We had to deal with that stuff right away so it wouldn’t become too hazardous," Friese said. "Some of that exploded."


Mainly, he said, the paint cans burst, causing a "popping" sound that was reported by quite a few people in the neighborhood.

Capt. James Schueller of the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office said on Wednesday that large flames broke through the roof on the south side of the building at 12:22 p.m.

Joining Pine Island firefighters were crews from the Rochester and Oronoco fire departments. In total, 11 fire trucks were dispatched to the scene. Crews remained there until 5:30 p.m. Additionally, the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office and Mayo Clinic Ambulance were on the scene.

RELATED: Structure fire in Northwest Rochester draws firefighters from 3 cities
Friese said the State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating; a cause has not been disclosed. The wind, he added, made fighting the fire difficult.

The estimated loss of the fire is roughly $800,000.

"Given how busy our department has been the past few weeks, I couldn’t be more proud of our guys," Friese said. "And I need to give a big thanks to our mutual aid partners."


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