A stubborn fire

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 21, 2005

By Ed Shannon and Debbie Irmen

Tribune staff reporters

Albert Lea firemen responded to a report of fire at the Hagen and Associates Construction building, 1018 S. Broadway Ave., at 9:03 a.m. Thursday.

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The fire in the Quonset-type building just behind Southtown Laundromat took just over three hours to extinguish.

Several apartment tenants in the Southtown building were evacuated as a precaution.

&uot;The buildings are actually about a foot apart,&uot; said Paul Stieler, assistant fire chief for the city of Albert Lea. &uot;We just evacuated them to be safe. They were never in any danger.&uot;

All off-duty firemen were called to help fight the blaze and a one-block

portion of South Broadway Avenue was closed for several hours.

A woodburner in the building was ruled the cause of the fire by Albert Lea Fire Department inspectors. The building was classified a total loss. Damage was estimated at $68,892 for the building and an additional $10,000 loss to the building’s contents.

Stieler suggested homeowners with woodburners exercise caution when they are in use.

&uot;The best thing for safety,&uot; he said, &uot;is to ensure burners are installed properly, and chimneys are clean.&uot;

He also encouraged homeowners who have fireplaces to install a smoke detector in close proximity to the device.

In addition, he said wet wood shouldn’t be used and homeowners should avoid over-firing the stove by adding too much wood.