Fires rage on Highway 10 in Perham, New York Mills areaMinnesota Highway 10 turned into a corridor of smoke and flame Thursday as firefighters battled a half-dozen fires between Perham and New York Mills.
By: Louis Hoglund, East Otter Tail Focus
PERHAM, Minn. – Minnesota Highway 10 turned into a corridor of smoke and flame Thursday as firefighters battled a half-dozen fires between Perham and New York Mills.
Residents of at least five mobile homes and houses were evacuated about five miles west of New York Mills. Another dozen homes and businesses were evacuated south of Perham.
Brisk, dry winds fanned the flames, threatening structures, but no dwellings were damaged from the fires, which covered nearly 30 acres.
“When I arrived at my residence around 10:30 or so, I was almost certain that it would be the last time we would see our house,” said Jeff Paridon, the owner of one of the homes that was threatened. “But all these volunteers did an outstanding job of fighting the fire.”
By noon, helicopter and airplane tankers were dropping fire retardant chemical in south Perham.
Perham firefighters were called to action first around 9 a.m. and then received two more fire calls within five minutes of each other.
Commercial, industrial and residential buildings along Fort Thunder Road, on the south side of Perham, were threatened by fire that covered several acres. Bauck Bus Company, with its fleet of Perham school buses, was under siege, surrounded on three sides by a fire that burned to within a few feet of the structure.
Firefighters from at least six area departments were called into action, as well as DNR crews. The DNR brought in smaller vehicles that were able to maneuver in closer to the fires. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also assisted with ground personnel and aircraft.
Nearly every police officer, deputy and State Trooper on the east side of Otter Tail County was on hand, controlling traffic at several points along Highway 10 as tankers, pump trucks and rescue rigs pulled along the shoulders.
Sparks from rail cars on the Burlington Northern- Santa Fe line are the suspected cause of several of the fires.
But the origin of the fire south of Perham is uncertain, as the location was across the highway–at least a mile from the railroad tracks.
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