Fire Causes Extensive Damage In Hollandale

Posted at: 07/08/2013 7:08 PM
Updated at: 07/08/2013 10:39 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- A large fire in Hollandale destroyed three buildings and more than a dozen agencies were needed to help bring it under control.

The State Fire Marshal's office is investigating the incident to try and find out how the fire started, but however it started, it certainly took a lot of effort to put it out.

The black smoke could be seen for miles and it took firefighters more than six hours to extinguish it completely.

“It was just smoke at first, we didn't know it was going to be this bad,” said Donna Pope who lives nearby. “And then somebody said there's LP tanks in there, so then the fire got worse."

But propane tanks weren't the only worry.

The largest building housed a number of classic cars, and with cars comes gas and other explosive materials.

“The vehicles, different vehicles and stuff stored inside of there, it causes some explosions with the gas tanks and tires, possible LP tanks stored in there and things,” said Rich Hall, director of Freeborn County Emergency Management. “That's the reason we evacuated this block over here early on."

Throughout the day, several small explosions could be heard coming from inside the buildings.

And while emergency personnel took precautions against the dangerous chemicals, there was another danger they couldn't guard against: the heat.

With the heat index reaching the mid-90's, coupled with the heat of the fire, crews had to take extra precautions.

“Heat stroke is definitely possible, so we're trying to rotate crews and keep the crews hydrated as much as possible,” Hall said. “The sweltering temperatures that we have combined with the heat from the fire and their turnout gear, it's a challenge for them, no doubt."

In the end at least 18 different fire departments responded to help keep rotations short, and the Salvation Army passed out water and cold towels to help keep fire fighters cool while battling the blaze.

Officials have not released any estimates as to the cost of the damage, but ABC 6 will continue to investigate this incident and bring you any new information as it becomes available.