Two Maple Grove Fires and One Close Call for Firefighters
Lightning strikes were responsible for both fires and forced newlyweds out of their dream home. The other home may be a total loss.
Firefighters for the Maple Grove Fire Department had their hands full on July 24 as early morning lightning strikes caused fires in two homes.
Stations four and five responded to the first fire on the 6300 block of Urbandale Lane North at 6:01 a.m., said Maple Grove Fire Chief Scott Anderson.
Homeowners Mark and Jen Hassenstab heard lightning strike the roof above their bedroom at about 5:30 a.m.
“I jumped up,” said Jen Hassenstab.
She said she noticed smoke, but didn’t realize that it was coming from their house. The couple later noticed even more smoke, and Jen Hassenstab rushed outside into the rain. That is when she saw the fire in the roof.
Said Anderson, “We were hindered a little bit by the weather because there was still lightning… Lightning is really tough.”
He explained that it was initially unsafe for anyone to be on top of the roof because that person would become a lightning rod.
However, he said that they caught the fire early enough to do what they needed to fight it, such as cutting a hole in the roof. The house will probably need a new roof and attic, but other parts of the house will probably be intact, Anderson said.
Mark and Jen Hassenstab found their dream home after looking at dozens of other houses. Newlyweds, they skipped their honeymoon so they could purchase it. They moved into the house in December. Mark Hassenstab expects that it will be four to six months before the house is livable again.
The call for the second fire came in at 7:40 a.m. Stations one and five responded to that fire. Station five was unable to immediately respond.
“Station five was still at the first fire call. Hoses were still off the trucks, so they couldn’t just leave,” Anderson said.
Anderson was the first to arrive at the 14000 block of 62nd Avenue North. He said that he saw smoke and flames from the roof of the home. When firefighters arrived, they attempted to bring a hose into the house to fight the fire from the inside. While they were still inside, the condition of the roof deteriorated.
“They had to bail out of the house,” Anderson said. “As they came out of the front door, the roof gave out and almost got the firefighters.”
At that point, they had to wait for the fire to burn a hole into the roof that was large enough to put water into it.
“Once the fire gets going in the structure of the house, there’s just exposed wood and it’s difficult to get in there and put the fire out,” Anderson said.
After the roof fell into the second floor, firefighters were at the home until around noon lifting the roof and making sure they had completely extinguished the fire.
While Anderson did not know if the house was a total loss, he did say that it was a substantial loss.
It was not the first time firefighters had responded to a fire at that location, Anderson said.
No one was injured in either fire.
The Hamel, Plymouth, West Metro, and Osseo Fire Departments also responded to the scene. North Memorial ambulance was on call in case of injuries.
Updated Aug. 3, 2012: The following information was updated from the Maple Grove Fire Department incident report:
- 6300 block of Urbandale Lane North. House fire caused by lightning strike. Around 5:30 a.m., home struck by lightning. Lights went out. Half of the home's circuit breakers were tripped. Homeowner turned them back on and went back to bed. Around 15 minutes later smelled smoke, went outdoors and saw flames on roof. Called 911. Fire Department arrived. Thunderstorm still underway with lightening which made it unsafe to go up on roof. Controlled fire. Eventually got to roof and cut hole for ventilation. Fire confined to attic and roof. Used tarps to cover contents of living areas of home. Stations #4 and #5 and Hamel with an engine for mutual aid.
- 14900 block of 62nd Avenue North. House fire. At 6 a.m., homeowner awoke to lightening strike nearby. Went back to sleep and awoke around 7 a.m. for work. Took shower and then smelled smoke. Went outdoors and observed smoke above master bathroom window which is above front door. Initial call to 911 was at 7:36 a.m. reporting fire on roof. Call was dispatched to Maple Grove Stations #1 and #5. Station #5 still engaged on an earlier house fire. Station #1 responding. Station #2 was dispatched. Maple Grove Chief 1 responded from scene of earlier fire and arrived on scene at 7:50 a.m. reporting smoke showing and at 7:53 a.m. reported flames through the roof. Chief 1 observed occupants and neighbors running in and out of the home salvaging belongings. Firefighters assisted homeowner in retrieving valuables from the home including some pictures, family photos and computer components. All five Maple Grove stations responded. Utilized mutual aid from Plymouth, Hamel, Osseo and West Metro. North Ambulance standing by at scene. Electric, gas and water utilities all responded to disconnect services.