Three Virginia Families Displaced After Garage Fire

By KBJR News 1

July 19, 2011 Updated Jul 19, 2011 at 10:55 PM CDT

VIRGINIA, MN (Northland's NewsCenter)---Three families are homeless after a fire ripped through a home and several garages in Virginia Monday night.

The fire so large– it required five departments to put it out.

Three houses, six garages, four cars and one shed are considered a loss after Monday night's fire.

All neighbors could do was watch.

"Very thick smoke, never seen anything like that," Kelly Rule, a resident of the area said. "Never heard that many fire trucks before, figured it must have been bad needing that many."

It happened on the 800 block of 12th Street North around 8:30 P.M.

Radiant heat from the fire caused power lines to fall and caused nearby siding on garages to melt but no injuries were reported.

Nearly 60 fire fighters from multiple response teams: Virginia, Mountain Iron, Eveleth, Fayal and Biwabik battled high temperatures from the heat index and fire well into the night.

Response teams battled the flames more than four hours.

The Virginia Fire Department says the high heat index was a factor in why more fire fighters were called to the scene the normal.

"It's such a stress on our fire fighters that they are only able to do fire suppression for a short period of time before they are exhausted," Chief Dan L'Allier of the Virginia Fire Department said.

Smoke and water damage to nearby homes displaced three families.

Two are reportedly staying with friends and family while the other has been placed in a hotel with the help of the Red Cross.

"We'll replace whatever clothes we can, and down the road when needs arrive we will refer them to Salvation Army or we'll get whoever we need to get involved and get the assistance that we can," Gerry Holkko, a volunteer of the Red Cross said.

Curiosity brought many neighborhood bystanders to the scene of the fire throughout the day Tuesday.

Victims of the fire can do little now but wait, but not without the support of friends and family.

The Eveleth ambulance service also assisted with EMS calls throughout the city of Virginia and were available to help fire fighters on site if they needed rehab during the time of the fire.

Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch
jwalch@northlandsnewscenter.com