A fire that started in an attached garage moved quickly to Jeff and Mandy Lien’s house at 502 6th Ave. W. in Osakis Thursday evening, as members of the Osakis Fire Department fought to keep the fire contained.

“The fire probably would have got over here yesterday (Wednesday) with the wind,” said neighbor Mike Ellefson, who lives in the house directly south of the Liens.

As it was, some of the siding on Ellefson’s house was curled up from the intense heat of the fire, which was reported shortly before 8 p.m. on May 31. But his thoughts were all on the damage that occurred at the Lien home next door.

The upstairs portion of the home is a total loss and the basement area sustained water and smoke damage, according to Craig Dropik, assistant fire chief.

Preliminary investigation shows that the fire started in the garage, Dropik said. The cause hasn’t been determined.

No one was home at the time of the fire, Dropik said.

All 19 Osakis firefighters battled the fire and were on scene within minutes

Ellefson said a neighbor came and pounded on his door to alert him of the blaze, and did the same at the Lien house.

“I sprayed the side of the house down to keep it cool,” Ellefson said, noting how quickly the fire department arrived. “By the time I got out of the house and got spraying, I heard sirens coming.”

It didn’t take long for Ellefson to see the fire expand from the Lien’s garage to the center of the house.

A short time before that, JoAnn Rieland had accompanied her husband, Dale, to the city’s compost site. As he removed branches out of the back of their pickup truck, she snapped three photos, and noticed the smoke in the right-hand corner of the pictures kept getting larger.

Her first thought was that the smoke was in the direction of their house on 3rd and Pike. But once she identified the football lights in the photo, she realized her home was not in the exact same direction.

“Then I was concerned it was his sister’s house,” JoAnn said, noticing all of the black smoke filling the air.

Dale, a retired firefighter from Rush City, and his wife stood across the street from the fire, watching the Osakis firefighters battle it, with water and with foam.

They were joined by people lined up and down the street, including Marlys Hawkins, who was relieved no one was injured in the fire.

“Just be thankful nobody was in it,” she said. “A house can be replaced.”

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