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Photo by Rachelle Klemme
Firefighter Rick Taggart shows Genesis Rescue equipment to Nathan Burckhard at the Pizza Ranch fundraiser Monday, April 9.
Photo by Rachelle Klemme Firefighter Rick Taggart shows Genesis Rescue equipment to Nathan Burckhard at the Pizza Ranch fundraiser Monday, April 9.

Firemen work at Pizza Ranch

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Wadena, 56482

Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson, P.O. Box 31 56482

When the worst of the Nimrod Jeep Wildfire was over, the Wadena Fire Department had a pizza fundraiser to get to.

"I was up all day [Sunday] 'til about midnight I got to bed, then I was back up and did a 10-hour day at work, and then I'm here now for the rest of the evening," Assistant Chief Dale Haman said.

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The four-hour Monday evening event at the Pizza Ranch raised $1,039.79 to go toward $17,000 of the cost of new Jaws of Life equipment that is not already covered by the city's budget.

Equipment from Genesis Rescue Systems, one of the brands the fire department was looking at, was on

display.

The firefighters at the fundraiser were busing tables, giving out pink fire hats to kids, and answering questions.

Meanwhile a couple others were up by Nimrod, as Haman said the Wadena fire department had two people at the scene at any given point until the DNR relieved them.

Fire Chief Dean Uselman said a total of 12 men from Wadena's fire department responded to the Easter Sunday fire.

Haman said they always have some staff, trucks and equipment in town in case they would be needed.

"We always keep the good pumper in town to protect the city," Haman said.

"There were actually two fires. One just north and

west ... of Verndale, and then the one that was south of Nimrod," Uselman said.

It was in keeping track of the Verndale fire that they realized how large the Nimrod fire was.

"That's when we realized how large that one was, and once we were back in service, we notified them that we were available," Uselman said.

The fire department had also responded to an oven fire just shortly before letting the dispatcher and the commander at Nimrod know they were available. Within a few minutes minutes, they were paged.

Haman was at the fire hall when they were summoned to respond to the Nimrod wildfire at about 6 p.m.

"We were debating if we were going to go home or not, and wait for them to call, and about the time we were going to go home, they paged us," Haman said, adding that he and another fireman were actually the first ones from Wadena to be on the scene.

Uselman said it was the forest forest fire that most of the firemen had seen.

Haman said the first Wadena firefighters to arrive got to staging, and it was hard to see because the wind made it difficult.

Worst part of the fire was contained by 11 p.m. Sunday; it helped that the wind went down after sunset.

Haman said that area is known to be prone to grass fires and wildfires: the soil is dry and sandy, and pine trees - which grow in that type of soil - dry out when there is no moisture.

"They just go up like matchsticks," he said.

An evacuation notice had been sent out to people living in the area near the fire.

"It's gotta be heart-wrenching for those people to, at a moment's notice, pack up what's the most important to you and leave your home and not know if it's going to be standing when you get back," Uselman said.

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