Thick, heavy black smoke poured out of a fire in Carlton Wednesday morning, threatening nearby structures as Arrowhead ATV and Cycle burned to the ground.

Firefighters from Carlton and other local fire departments were called to the fire on the 200 block of Chestnut Avenue at 10:05 a.m. Wednesday. They attacked the fire on all fronts, using a backhoe to pull down parts of the building to get at the fire and spraying water from above with a hose attached to a fully extended ladder truck, along with street-level hoses.

While firefighters were able to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby buildings, the ATV business appeared to be a total loss after the fire was extinguished, as only the front wall was left standing with a large pile of charred rubble behind filling the space.

“The steel roof on the older building also had almost a loft above it that made it a challenge to get to the fire,” Carlton Fire Chief Dane Johnson said. “Our preliminary [theory] is that the fire started in the south end and traveled through the attic space back through the steel roof.”

Wrenshall and Esko Fire Departments assisted Carlton Fire and Ambulance, as did Carlton County Law Enforcement, Carlton County Emergency Management and the City of Carlton Utilities Department.

Carlton Mayor Kitty Bureau said she was in contact with owner Randy Parker late in the morning.

“The owner and his employee got out,” said Bureau. “The employee was working on a four-wheeler and it backfired and something caught on fire. It went really, really quick.”

A shop worker was treated for burns to his hands, and residents in two adjacent apartments were displaced as a fire burned down the motorcycle repair shop. According to a report on the emergency scanner, another person was treated for smoke inhalation.

The Northland chapter of the American Red Cross arrived to help with the displaced residents of the adjacent apartments, which sustained smoke damage and melted vinyl siding.

Several hours after the fire started, the smell of smoke still hung in the air, and bits and pieces of the charred building lay scattered on what was once the front of the business. The firefighters finished turning off the water at the hydrants and putting hoses back in the trucks, then slowly left, one by one.

“We’re all upset, it's a business in our city, we all know the owners,” Johnson said. “Carlton is historically a tight knit community, we know everyone and we feel for the owners.”

The fire was also responsible for knocking out telephone and internet service to downtown Carlton, a busy section of town with shops, restaurants and other entities, including the town library. Chestnut Avenue is the stretch of Minnesota Highway 210 that runs east and west through town.