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House burned as part of training exercise

ST. CHARLES — In a fury of flames and smoke, a house burned near downtown St. Charles on Saturday as firefighters from several area fire departments stood and watched.

The blaze was part of a controlled burn that attracted a lot of spectators.

Joe Hewitt, St. Charles Fire Department training officer, said several departments, including St. Charles, Rushford, Oronoco, Lewiston and Dover, took part in the burn. The building was used in a Riverland Community College Firefighter 1 and 2 program to teach firefighters how to go into a burning building and other techniques.

In addition, law enforcement officers from Winona County, Winona, Goodview and St. Charles used the building to train tactical teams to enter a building and use tear gas, Hewitt said.

St. Charles bought the building and one next to it that St. Charles firefighters trained on earlier in the week to demolish for green space, Hewitt said.

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