A massive blaze in Oronoco destroyed a home and covered the neighborhood in smoke Tuesday evening. And the freezing temperature made fighting the fire much more difficult.
The Oronoco Fire Department responded to 522 Zumbro Hills Dr. SW at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. When they arrived, the two-story home was engulfed in flames and thick smoke. It didn't take long before the roof collapsed and the second floor crumbled.
"It was just havoc in the beginning," said Cain Dolan, the second assistant chief at the Oronoco Fire Department. "The early stages of the fire -- it just gets so hot so quick. And that wind [Tuesday night] -- it just fueled the fire."
The fire sent smoke billowing throughout the neighborhood. And for the responding crews, they had to fight the fire while fighting the ice.
"Right away, our first engine froze up. We had to move that out of the way and get a second engine established. That engine froze up immediately," Dolan recalled. "So for 10 minutes, we were without an engine until Pine Island showed up."
The Rochester and Mazeppa Fire Departments also provided assistance.
"You really need all the departments you can when we have a fire like this," Dolan said.
To keep the crews safe from the bitter cold, many people pitched in.
"Luckily, our first responders showed up. We got an ambulance here on site, got the heat on. Some nice people stopped by with some coffee and hot pizza, so everyone is doing pretty good. We're rotating guys in and out, making sure everyone is staying warm," said Dolan.
Another challenge for the firefighters was the lack of fire hydrants in the neighborhood. Despite it all, they were able to extinguish most of the flames by 10 p.m. Fire crews remained on the scene until 12:20 a.m. Wednesday.
The home, however, was leveled. The loss is estimated at $400,000.
Fortunately, no one was home at the time of the fire, said Dolan. But the residents did return to see the devastation.
No one was hurt.
Dolan said the fire appeared to have started on the southeast corner of the first floor. The cause is under investigation.
A fundraising page has been organized to help the family affected by the fire. You can visit the page by clicking here.
Community members can also make donations at both the north and south locations of the Salvation Army in Rochester, as well as at the Casey's General Store in Oronoco.