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Fire destroys out-building

BEMIDJI -- Chad Johnson was doing routine maintenance on a four-wheeler when his wife alerted him to the flames shooting from an out-building on his father's property Friday afternoon.

A few hours later, the building lay in ruins.

Crews with the Bemidji Fire Department were called to the home, at 13086 Coyote Road NW, just before 2 p.m. Friday. There, the building was engulfed, with smoke visible from U.S. Highway 2 several miles away. High winds from the south pushed the fire across the yard and toward a wooded area, but firefighters prevented it from spreading further.

Fire Chief Dave Hoefer remained on scene after 4 p.m. monitoring the smoldering wreckage. He stated in a press release that 15,000 gallons of water were used to extinguish the fire, and that the building was a total loss. The cause remains under investigation, but is believed to be accidental, the release stated

In the shell of the building, several metal barrels and tanks could be seen. Johnson said he knew of at least one, aging fuel tank that was stored there, but said it was empty, and had "no idea" what could have caused the blaze.

A truck driver currently staying at a home near the destroyed barn, Johnson hauls calcium chloride from Wisconsin to Grand Forks during the week. He was preparing for a summer weekend at the farm when the fire broke out.

"I was just doing maintenance work. ... kind of boring," he said. "I didn't need this kind of excitement."

Justin Glawe
Reporting on crime, courts and Beltrami county government. Follow me on Twitter @JustinGlawe.
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