WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 01, 2010, 08:08 AM

Several homes and businesses are evacuated after a massive grass fire

Perham, Minn. (WDAY TV) - After battling flames for hours this morning, fire crews have put out a huge grass fire near Perham, Minnesota. The fire started around 9:30 and spread quickly throughout the area, burning up between 25 and 30 acres of land.

Perham's fire chief says this is one of the worst fires he's seen in the past five years. He says the high winds today made it difficult to put out the blaze. While no one was seriously injured, one firefighter was taken to hospital for heat exhaustion.

12 homes were evacuated and several businesses along highways 78 and 10. Perham's fire chief thinks he knows what may have caused the fire.

“Nothing I believe is intentional, I think it was just a vehicle passing by, something throwing sparks, more than likely that was at random.”

Several fire crews, the state patrol, DNR and fish and wildlife helped get the fire under control.

An air tanker from Bemidji was called in to drop fire retardant on the flames. If you have any information about the fire, you're asked to call the Ottertail County Sheriff's Office.

People who had to be evacuated say they are amazed they still have homes tonight. Some have some fixing up to do, but they say that's OK.

Don and Kim Andersen have lived back in this neighborhood for the past six years. They say when they saw the massive flames shooting into the sky; it gave them a sick feeling in their stomach.

“He called me and I thought it was an April fools. All he told me was there's a fire in the woods and I had to get out.”

Don Andersen was down the road this morning, working on a new home that's going up in his neighborhood, when he smelled smoke. The alarm was raised that fire had broken out, he rushed home.

“Grabbed some clothes and I looked out and there was just a big wall of fire coming across my left.”

Don didn't waste any time getting to safety, he went to his daughter's home and waited. For an hour and a half, he and his family didn't know if they would have a place to come home to tonight.

“Terrible, you know, you just put your head in your hands, and you try to figure out, OK who do I call first? And where are you going to live, and what are you going to do?”

Meanwhile, crews used every tool they had at their fingertips to fight the blaze. The effort paid off, flames died down just when they needed to, and only caused some cosmetic damage to the Andersen's home; a piece of cake for Don to fix.

“Relieved, don't know what else to say, just, thank the lord.”

The Andersens say after this scare, they've decided it's time to organize a fire-proof safety kit to put all of their important documents inside. Other neighbors are planning to do the same.