One man was hospitalized with burns and smoke inhalation Friday after an explosion and fire at a cabin on Lake of the Woods, east of Solon Springs. He remained hospitalized in fair condition Monday, according to Essentia Health spokeswoman Maureen Talarico. The cabin was a complete loss and several nearby structures were damaged by the heat, according to a release from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
The incident was reported just after noon at 10654S Lake of the Woods Loop Road. A neighbor reported hearing a loud explosion that shook her house and seeing smoke and flames coming from the cabin next door. She also saw a vehicle rapidly leaving the driveway. She called 911 as she evacuated the area as the explosions continued.
Emergency personnel arrived on scene and observed flames periodically shooting several hundred feet into the air as propane escaped and ignited from a tank that had just been filled that morning. The explosions ceased as firefighters attacked the blaze.
Deputies located the cabin owner, Dale O'Brien, 85, of Superior, at a residence across the lake being treated by Gold Cross Paramedics. O'Brien told deputies that he was trying to start his gas fireplace when a burst of flames forcefully shot out from the fireplace insert directly at him. He said he knew he was burned and had to evacuate the cabin. He left in his vehicle and sought assistance from the first place he found somebody home. O'Brien was taken to a local hospital with burns to his hands, face and legs, as well as smoke inhalation.
Volunteer firefighters from Solon Springs, Gordon, Highland, Bennett and Lake Nebagamon responded to the fire.