Stubborn Fire Contained by Minnesota Firefighters

A stubborn and smoky fire at a Minnesota gas station was ignited by discarded smoking material.

Just before 11 p.m. on Sept. 21, Vadnais Heights firefighters were alerted to smoke coming from a gas station on Rice Street near Interstate 694.

Vadnais Heights Engine 11 arrived to find fire through the roof in the rear of the one-story building, which had closed for business less than an hour before, Chief Ed Leier said.

Firefighters forced entry into the store and found heavy fire in a storage room in the rear of the building. Utilizing two handlines, firefighters had the fire knocked down pretty quick, but the fire had extended through the ceiling. "The store room was windowless and concrete, which caused the fire to burn through the roof."

"We were dealing with two roofs" Leier said. "The original flat roof was covered with the addition of a peaked roof and the fire was spreading through there."

Firefighters accessed the roof via aerial ladder to make several cuts to expose the fire that ran between the roofs. Heavy brown smoke was pouring from the roof as crews worked feverishly to find the fire.

The fire was under control in about 30 minutes, but extensive overhaul required crews to stay on scene for three hours.

Investigators say the fire was caused by the careless disposal of cigarettes, which were left in the store room.

Mutual aid was requested from Lake Johanna and Little Canada, which brought a total of 36 firefighters to the scene. Crews from the White Bear Lake Fire Department covered the Vadnais Heights district.