Weather Forecast


Firefighters douse rural shed

Photo by Rachelle Klemme Gary Cushman stands just under the shade of the salvaged area of his hay shed in Orton Township. Cushman said he personally saw the Tuesday afternoon lightning strike that started the blaze, and Sebeka firefighters doused it before it could go further.

Gary Cushman is well known in the Sebeka and Nimrod area, but he joked that many people didn't know where he lived until Sebeka and Wadena County authorities responded to a fire on his Orton Township property Tuesday afternoon.

Cushman, who is retired from the military, lives out in the country, where he said he saw lightning strike his pole shed.

While Cushman described the loss of property as "pretty depressing," he was glad it wasn't any worse and in awe of seeing mother nature's work firsthand.

"It was exciting. I was in the bathroom and looked out. I saw it hit the building, it was so cool," Cushman said. "I didn't think the intensity of lightning would strike the building on fire as quickly as it did."

Cushman called 9-1-1 at about 2:15 p.m., and the Sebeka Fire and Sheriff's Departments arrived to help.

"There were quite a few bales of hay in there. We got the bales out and put out the fire," Sebeka Fire Chief Bill Wilson said.

About 45 bales of hay were inside, and bales had to be moved to spray down the fire.

No people or animals were injured. Cushman said the destroyed hay was meant for horses, but he was glad the horses themselves weren't there.

Cushman also said there were a couple of old car parts in the shed, but it could have been worse: an old collector car and his brother's vehicle used to be parked inside.

Half the building was salvageable, he added.

The fire department was done at the scene by about 4 p.m.

"The efficiency of the Sebeka Fire Department was awesome," Cushman said. "Bunch of friends of mine."

The Nimrod area has seen several fires in recent months, and since the Sebeka Fire Department is often the nearest agency, they respond to many of the disasters in the forested areas of Wadena County.

"We serve nine townships and go all the way into Cass County and Otter Tail County," Wilson said.

Wilson added that he and his team fought several major blazes during the recent dry spring, and they often douse the forest fires before they reach the tops of trees.

"We've had the potential for some major ones, but we were able to get on top of them," Wilson said.

Deputy Bryan Savaloja at the Wadena County Sheriff's Office said several storms moved through the area Tuesday. A press release clarified that, in Cushman's case, the hay stored inside his shed was a complete loss, but no other structures were damaged.