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Fires destroy house, pole building

“If it weren’t for a working smoke detector, we probably would have had a fatality on our hands.”

Such were the Monday morning reflections of Kevin Schroeder, chief of the Cloquet Area Fire District (CAFD), following a devastating weekend fire.

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Schroder said CAFC personnel were called to the fire in the 1500 block of Cloquet’s Spring Lake Road at approximately 3:20 a.m. Sunday. He said units responding to the scene reported heavy fire had already spread throughout the structure and smoke and flames coming from three sides of the residence. There were also power lines down in the driveway.

Schroeder noted that as fire crews made their way into the burning building they discovered that the blaze had burned through from beneath the floors, making conditions hazardous and forcing firefighters back outside to continue their suppression efforts from there.

The home’s single occupant told CAFD staff that he had been awakened by one of the home’s smoke detectors. He reported there was already heavy smoke throughout the structure at that time and he had to crawl out of the structure along the floor in order to exit the house. He was transported to St. Mary’s-Essentia in Duluth by CAFD paramedics, where he was treated for minor smoke inhalation.

In all, firefighters remained on the scene for five hours. Also responding to the incident was the Carlton Fire Department, which provided water to fight the blaze, as well as Cloquet Police, the Carlton County Sheriff’s Department and Minnesota Power.

Schroeder said both the home and its contents were destroyed in the blaze and the home was deemed a total loss. He noted that the nature of the fire was devastating enough that if the homeowner had not been awakened by the smoke detector at the point that he was, he would have had a difficult, if not impossible, time of it trying to get through the house from where he exited his bedroom.

“It was the smoke detector that saved his life,” concluded Schroeder.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Wrenshall building destroyed

A second fire destroyed a pole building in Wrenshall Township on Tuesday night.

At approximately 7:15 p.m. Carlton County Dispatch received a call from a homeowner reporting a structure fire on his property. When Wrenshall Fire arrived on scene they found a large pole building engulfed in flames approximately 30 feet from a house.

Fire fighters were able to remove a skid steer loader and some other items before the building was completely destroyed.  Fire Chief Randy Wolf said the cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

Wrenshall firefighter Chris Erickson, who was the incident commander at Tuesday night’s blaze, said personnel were on the scene for some five hours.

Wrenshall was assisted by Blackhoof Fire, Carlton Fire, Esko Fire, Mahtowa Fire and the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office.