A rainy day’s just perfect for a fire in Douglas CountySaturday’s weather was perfect for a fire, Randy Martin said. Martin, fire chief for the Town of Oakland in Douglas County, said the soggy weather was ideal for carrying out the planned burn of the Oakland Town Hall.
By: News Tribune, Superior Telegram staff, Duluth News Tribune
Saturday’s weather was perfect for a fire, Randy Martin said.
Martin, fire chief for the Town of Oakland in Douglas County, said the soggy weather was ideal for carrying out the planned burn of the Oakland Town Hall.
“We didn’t have a lot of wind, which I was afraid of,” Martin said. “The rainy conditions were great.”
About 20 volunteer firefighters from the towns of Oakland, Parkland, Summit and Superior participated in the burn, which served as a training exercise, Martin said.
They practiced search-and-rescue operations before starting the fire, Martin said. While it was underway, they let the building fill with smoke three times to allow groups of firefighters to experience those conditions. A rapid intervention team stood by in case something went amiss, but the team was never needed, he said.
The exercise began at 9 a.m. and wrapped up by 2:30 p.m., Martin said.
The building at the intersection of county highways B and K had been a community hub since it was built in 1922. More than a spot for town meetings, it was the site of dances, funeral receptions, exercise classes, firefighter training, church services and rummage sales.
But more than two years ago, an inspection of the building revealed moisture had ravaged the untreated floor joists and sub-flooring; beams were deteriorating, and airborne mold was detected in high concentrations in the building.
The town sought grants to repair the building but did not qualify for them because of residents’ income level and because past remodeling had compromised the building’s historical quality.
The town has purchased 19 acres of land for a new town hall at Highway K and Rockdale Road, but residents have yet to approve money for new buildings.
Not everything was destroyed by Saturday’s fire. Town workers salvaged distinctive signs from the exterior of the building and pulled up floorboards to recycle as picture frames for the new town hall.