Cause of Hollandale blaze remains unclear

Published 11:15 am Thursday, July 25, 2013

HOLLANDALE — It has been more than two weeks since a large fire destroyed three warehouses in this community, but many questions remain unanswered.

Irene Jones, one of the owners of the property at 101 Netherlands Ave. W., said officials with the State Fire Marshal’s Office have deemed the cause of the fire to be undetermined.

The fire marshal’s report about the blaze has not yet been made public.

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Jones said she was told the fire began in the front office of a warehouse they were renting out to CF Distributing, owned by Craig Ferns. The building housed motorcycle and lawn mower parts for an online business.

There were a couple possibilities of how the fire started, she said.

The blaze spread from Ferns’ building to two other warehouses that stored antique vehicles and other collectibles owned by Jones and her husband, Don. There were 15 antique cars, including two Ford Model Ts, and about 30 antique chainsaws, among other items.

Firefighters from at least 20 departments both in and outside of Freeborn County battled the blaze for more than eight hours in hot, humid conditions.

Jones said the traffic by the ruins has been “nonstop” since the fire on July 8, and noted that even a tour bus drove by one day.

“This has been a historical landmark,” she said.

The warehouses used to be part of a potato company owned by Paul D. Jones for many years. Before that, they were part of a lumber yard.

Irene Jones said she and her husband plan to start cleaning the wreckage next week.