Fire destroys new house in Paumen Addition

An early morning fire on Friday completely destroyed a house under construction in the Paumen Addition and damaged three other nearby homes.

The home, owned by Ryan Hughes of Cokato, burned to the ground shortly after firefighters were called to the scene at 12:45 a.m.

Maple Lake Fire Chief Todd Borell said the first fire truck arrived on the scene at 12:48 a.m. and by that time, the fast-moving fire had totally engulfed the house.

“By the time the pumper got there one minute later, the neighbor’s garage was already on fire,” Borell said. “The house was coming down already by the time we had water, only six or seven minutes after the time of the page.

“There was so much heat that it bubbled the siding on two houses across the street.”  Borell said the house was framed up and closed in, with heating and cooling workers working at the site until about 10:30 p.m. that evening.

Detective Dave Clemence of the Wright County Sheriff’s Department said a deputy was the first to arrive at the scene and saw a pile of debris burning in front of the garage, which did not yet have a garage door installed. The deputy reported that a storm with strong winds came through, blowing the fire into the unfinished garage.

Clemence said there is no indication of arson and that the cause is undetermined at this time. He also had words of praise for the Wright County Arson Investigation team, which is a recent collaborative effort by county fire departments. Team members provided assistance in the investigation of Friday’s fire and Clemence said those efforts are appreciated by the Sheriff’s Department. “It’s really a beneficial service they are providing,” he said.

Hughes said he and his wife, Hally, had planned to move into the new house at the end of August. He said that even the foundation on the house will have to be replaced, estimating that clean-up costs and reconstruction will run to about $82,000. Hughes said he is insured and plans to rebuild the house on the Paumen Addition site.

Next door neighbor Scott Sylvester said there was considerable damage to his home, with walls charred on two sides of his garage, melted vinyl siding on the back and front of the house and damage to the roof. He said two neighbors across the street also suffered damage to the siding on their homes.

Sylvester said he doesn’t have an estimate yet on the amount of the damage, but he is insured and said the situation could have been much worse. “A neighbor came over and woke me up,” he said. “He told me to get the truck out. I grabbed some photo albums and that was it. It was “See you later, house.’”

But firefighters were able to contain the fire and Sylvester’s garage suffered the brunt of the damage. He said his wife, Wendy, is in Hawaii on vacation with friends and since he didn’t want to ruin her trip, he hasn’t told her about the damage to the home they have lived in for just short of a year. And he said he wouldn’t have made that call even if his house had burned to the ground, but that would have made for a very interesting situation when Wendy returned home.

“Try explaining something like that to the wife when she gets back.”

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