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Fire does damage to Denmark barn

A fire started by a wood-burning stove in a Denmark Township barn caused an estimated $75,000 in damage Sunday, Jan. 11.

The call came into the Hastings Fire Department shortly after 5 p.m. when a passerby called 911 after seeing flames coming from the barn at 13328 Norell Ave.

When firefighters responded to the scene, there were flames in the first and second stories of the three-story barn, Hastings Fire Chief Mike Schutt said.

Firefighters worked for almost six hours to get the blaze under control. Despite the long period of time the barn was burning, Schutt said the barn was not a total loss. He said it could be salvaged but needs a new roof and some other work on the inside.

The barn's owner, Gary Thyren, said he'll have to see if water got into the cement block base of the barn, because if it freezes, it could damage the foundation.

The approximately 80-year old barn was used as a woodworking shop by Thyren. There were no animals inside the barn at the time of the fire.

The apparent cause of the fire was a wood-burning stove that was used to heat the barn. The chimney, which came out of the side of the barn, got hot and started the wood siding on fire, Schutt said.

Thyren said earlier that night his son called and wanted to do some work in the barn, so he started a fire in the stove and went back inside to wait until it warmed up. It was something he'd done hundreds of times before, but the first time he'd lit the stove this winter.

About a half hour later, he saw a car pull into his driveway and someone came up to the door.

"They rang the doorbell and said, 'Your barn is on fire,'" Thyren said.

They tried to reach a hydrant that was located inside the barn but couldn't get to it, Thyren said. They doused the flames with buckets of water, but it didn't do any good. Soon after that, the fire department showed up.

There were some tools that were destroyed in the fire, but others are salvageable, Thyren said. It's a matter of thawing them out because they're covered in ice from all the water used to put out the flames.

Because the fire occurred in a rural area where were are no fire hydrants, the Cottage Grove and Prescott fire departments were called in to assist with their tanker trucks for water to fight the fire.