Firefighters are able to spare the house

    A Crookston man working on a snowmobile in his attached garage late Tuesday morning spilled some gasoline, which was ignited by a propane heater nearby, and he escaped to the backyard before the entire garage was ablaze.

    Crookston Daily Times Sales Manager Calvin Anderson happened to be driving near Mike Pahlen’s residence at 312 3rd Avenue South at 11 a.m. Tuesday when he saw the flames and smoke, and he was first on the scene and was able to confirm with Pahlen that no one else was in the garage or house.

    At that point, sparing the house from major fire damage seemed like a tall order, but Crookston firefighters were able to do just that. While the garage and everything in it was destroyed, Crookston Fire Chief Tim Froeber said the house was spared fire damage, but does have a lot of smoke damage.

    “A group going through the front door was able to keep it at bay, and another group on the side kept the house cool enough,” Froeber tells the Times. “They really did a great job on that.”

    In addition to the snowmobile Pahlen was working on, Froeber said there was also a pickup, boat, tractor, snowblower and a lot of tools in the garage. “There was a lot of stuff in there and a lot of fuel on the ground,” the chief said.

    Pahlen was not injured, nor were any firefighters.

    Typically, an investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office would be contacted to come in and investigate the cause of the fire, but it’s not necessary in this case, Froeber said when asked by the Times.

    “We interviewed the owner and the story he told us made sense,” he explained. “Then we looked over the scene ourselves, and you could absolutely see what happened.”

    Froeber said he contacted the fire marshal’s office and “they’re good” with the explanation regarding the cause.