Flames destroy shed in Coles Valley
Sparta Area Fire District crews had to deal with extremely adverse conditions as they battled two different fires Sunday in 20-below-zero temperatures.
The first call came in at 9:37 a.m. when firefighters were dispatched to the John and Renea Prochazka farm at 15545 Cty. Hwy. A in Coles Valley for a machine shed fire.
Fire Chief Mike Arnold said when he arrived the building was fully engulfed in flames and live power lines were down and arcing. He believes the fire started on the north end of the shed where a wood stove was located.
As the crew poured water onto the flames, it turned instantly to ice, making the area treacherous for firefighters. Arnold said spray from the hoses also froze on the firefighters’ turnout gear, turning it stiff.
“When it’s that cold it’s so hard to stay warm,” he added.
Arnold said the Prochazkas were in their house when the fire started and weren’t aware the shed was in flames. A neighbor who is a deputy for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, Brandon Leis, noticed the smoke and alerted the Prochazkas to the blaze before calling 911.
Arnold said the wind was blowing out of the south, preventing the fire from endangering the house and other out buildings. The shed was a total loss along with tools, a pickup, a gator and many pieces of equipment.
While the crew was at the scene, a second fire call came in at 10:46 a.m. at the Dean Wegner farm at 7769 Garnett Avenue off Hwy. 27 north of Sparta where a skid steer caught on fire in a machine shed.
Arnold sent units from the Cty. Hwy. A fire and by the time they arrived the owners had pulled the machine out of the building. Crews extinguished the skid steer and checked the building for hot spots. There was only minor smoke damage to the shed.
Arnold said it's not uncommon to have back-to-back fires. “That's why it's important to have units ready to respond to a second call like we did (Sunday),” he said.
Firefighters remained on the scene of the Cty. Hwy. A fire until 1 p.m. The fire department was assisted by the Sparta Ambulance Service, Monroe County Sheriff's Department, Fort McCoy Fire Department and Oakdale Electric.
Assisting at the fire on Garnett Avenue were the Sparta Ambulance Service and the Monroe County Sheriff's Department.
At 1:27 p.m. Sunday, firefighters were called out again, this time to Kwik Trip on South Black River Street for a reported natural gas leak.
Arnold said sniffer equipment helped the crew locate a leak in the kitchen area. The valve was shut off and fire personnel ventilated the area. They were on the scene for an hour and a half.
Then, at 3:08 a.m. this morning (Monday) the fire department responded to an accident on Interstate 90 at the 26-mile marker where a vehicle went off the road. Arnold said there were no injuries in the accident.