UPDATED: Manning fire destroys three homes; no injuries reported
MANNING -- A fire that broke out in a small Dunn County town destroyed three homes Thursday afternoon. The fire started around 2:10 p.m., quickly spreading to other residences. No injuries have been reported, and all the residents' pets are safe....
MANNING -- A fire that broke out in a small Dunn County town destroyed three homes Thursday afternoon.
The fire started around 2:10 p.m., quickly spreading to other residences. No injuries have been reported, and all the residents’ pets are safe. The source of the fire has not yet been determined.
Employees at Sample Auto Sales, about a block away, looked out their window and saw a camper on fire, said Denise Brew, Dunn County emergency manager.
The fire then spread to other houses, garages and to nearby trees, essentially claiming a block of the town of about 100 people. One of the homes had ammunition that began going off in the flames and residents’ propane tanks exploded.
The strong, consistent wind and drought conditions contributed to the fire’s spread, Brew said.
“This is a sad way to confirm to everybody that there is a reason we have no firecrackers for the Fourth of July,” she said.
West Dunn Fire Department and Dickinson Rural Fire Department have contained the fire, though it was still smoldering as of 8 p.m. Thursday. The area could continue to see hot spots for the next several days. Killdeer Area Ambulance Service was on site to care for the responders as needed. The Dunn County Road Department and Missouri Basin brought tankers of water so the fire departments could fill their trucks. They drove one tanker in circles around the block pouring water to contain its spread, Brew said.
Though the grass may appear green there is little moisture, causing the sparks to quickly burst into flames on the ground, she said.
Dunn County Commission Chairman Reinhard Hauck was on the scene bringing equipment to two of his sons who work in the fire departments. Both sons were out of town when they got the call.
“It just makes you sick,” Hauck said. “I don’t know how many people we have homeless, how much damages do we have – I just pray that the fire departments can stop it. … It’s a tough thing to watch.”
Hauck served as the county auditor for 37 years and has served as a commissioner the last five. In all that time he said he has never seen a fire like this one.
“It’s pretty heart-wrenching. As dry as we are, I think there was some questions why the county put a fire ban on awhile back -- that’s why,” he said. “My reaction is what can the county do right now as a board of county commissioners. We’ll work with our emergency manager as we recover from what happened to this little town.”
Lucas Stroh, who lives 3 miles north of Manning and responded to the fire as a paramedic student, said he was just grateful everyone got out and there were no injuries. He helped coax one of the residents’ dogs out of a shed and reunited it with the owner.
“It’s sad to see this, I mean Manning’s small, but this is basically a whole block that’s burned,” he said. “We responded quickly, but there’s a burn ban for a reason. That was the problem is the wind spread it and it’s dry -- just the perfect storm of conditions. It’s sad to see, but I’m relieved that nobody was injured.”
Brew said someone from the West Dunn Fire Department will remain on the scene through the night, keeping an eye on hot spots and smoke. Though the fire is no longer raging, the wind has the potential to stir up the fire once more, so they will keep a close eye on it.
“This is a small community that has always stuck together, and I’m sure that they will do what they always do and pull together and support the people as needed,” said Valerie Oakleaf, assistant manager and EMT with Killdeer Area Ambulance Service. “I think that’s probably the best part about living in a small community.”