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Answering the call to help

By Staff | Jan 7, 2018

Blue Earth firemen Mark Mensing and Zach Tvedten brave sub-zero weather during the fire and cleanup at the elevator fire in Northrop.

When the call went out that help was needed with a grain elevator fire in Northrop, Minnesota, over the New Years weekend, fire departments from around Minnesota responded.

In fact, there were 53 fire departments and emergency units that answered the call, including six from Faribault County. The fire departments from Winnebago, Delavan, Easton, Elmore, Minnesota Lake and Blue Earth all sent men and equipment to help out.

“We were over there for three days and nights,” Blue Earth Fire Department chief Roger Davis says. “We had our aerial ladder truck there for 12 hours and Wells had their aerial truck there for a shift, too. We also had three tankers running back and forth. But we always kept one tanker at home, in case it would be needed here.”

In all, the Blue Earth Fire Department put in 313 man hours at the fire.

Winnebago Fire Department chief Jesse Haugh says they furnished trucks and manpower, to the tune of many man hours, as well.

“I have to give a lot of credit to the people in charge of keeping it all organized,” Haugh says. “It was a group of fire chiefs from Truman, Fairmont, Northrop, as well as some state fire marshall people, and also Jack Volz, from Minnesota Lake.”

Haugh says Volz is a fire and EMS trainer and taught at the Mankato Vocational Training Center. It took a lot of effort to keep everything running smoothly with 53 departments involved.

“We just worked eight hour shifts and then had to replace our crews,” Davis says. “We covered three shifts for three days. The last day we had six guys there and they came home Sunday at noon.”

Haugh says the operation also included a huge amount of donated food that was set up to feed all the volunteer firemen and others.

“They had like three lines of food in the building,” Haugh says. “Really, the people in charge of handling this whole operation deserve a lot of credit. They did an incredible job.”

Davis says there was over one million gallons of water sprayed on the fire the first day alone.

“I’m sure there was a couple of million gallons used by the end of it,” Davis says. “It was a really big deal.”

Both men say that one issue was the cold temperatures.

“No doubt about it, it was cold, really cold,” Haugh says. “That is why they were careful to limit the time anyone was outside or the length of time on a shift.”

Both Davis and Haugh are also happy that there were no injuries, other than a few minor cases of frostbite.

“We had a little damage to some of our equipment and trucks from the cold,” Davis says. “But nothing major.”

The local fire departments were happy to help out as much as they could, while still keeping enough equipment and manpower at home in case there was an emergency here.

Fire departments came from as far away as Hills and Luverne to the west, Garvin and Tracy northwest, Albertville (north of Minneapolis) to the north, Northfield to the northeast, Waseca and Albert Lea to the east and Ringsted, Iowa, to the south.

It was a case of responding to a call for some assistance, in a big way.