Wis. Firehouse Goes up in Flames; Vehicles Destroyed

Sept. 20--Gordon firefighters could do little at first but watch as flames destroyed their fire hall Thursday afternoon.

With their equipment trapped inside the burning building, they had to wait until neighboring departments arrived to help.

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George Booth, Town of Gordon constable, said the building is a total loss, as are at least six trucks inside, including pumpers and tankers, a snowmobile and other emergency vehicles.

No one was hurt in the blaze that broke out just after noon, he added.

Gordon firefighters responded to a report of a structure fire at the fire hall around noon, Gordon Fire Chief Mike Chmielecki said at a 4 p.m. news conference near the burned-out fire hall. By the time firefighters arrived, smoke and flames were already coming from the metal-sided and -roofed building on Douglas County Highway Y.

Firefighters and trucks from Solon Springs, Minong, Barnes and other agencies helped battle the blaze. Small explosions were heard inside the building, which was built around 1979, Chmielecki said.

"We basically lost everything," he said, including two fire engines, two tenders, two brush trucks and the personal protection gear for about 15 firefighters.

"It's a sad day," Chmielecki said.

As Chmielecki talked to the media, firefighters continued to mop up the fire scene just yards away. The building's walls still stood, but its roof and overhead doors had collapsed into the building. Two burned-out firetrucks that had been pulled from the building sat on a driveway along the road.

For the immediate future, nearby fire departments will handle emergency calls in Gordon under a mutual aid agreement, Chmielecki said.

Keith Kesler, Douglas County emergency management and communications director, said the president of the state fire chiefs association will ask its members to see what surplus gear they can provide to Gordon.

Booth said it's not clear how the fire started. A thunderstorm with lightning hadn't quite arrived in the area when Booth said he called the fire in.

"I have a lot of memories in that building," Booth said.

Gordon is about 35 miles south of Superior along U.S. Highway 53.

The fire hall served as an incident command post during the Germann Road wildfire in May.

News Tribune staff writer Steve Kuchera contributed to this report.

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