Two homes were damaged during a June 5 live burn fire training near Northwoods Park, on Winnetka Avenue between 107th and 109th avenues..
With the impending construction of a new housing development, Cove at Northwoods Park, situated between 107th and 109th avenues, two homes at 7848 107th Ave. and 10800 Winnetka Ave. needed to be removed from the site. The developer offered to let the fire department use the homes for live fire training rather than have them demolished.
The department conducted training in the homes June 3 without incident, but when the houses were burned down June 5, the heat from the fires melted the vinyl siding on two houses across 107th Avenue.
While the wind was blowing due east when the fire was started, the wind shifted at the height of the fire’s strength and pushed hot gas across the street, Fire Chief Ken Prillaman said.
This incident was the “first time in 18 years” Prillaman has seen this type of damage across the street from a live fire training, he said.
There was also smoke damage found on the interior of at least one of these homes due to open windows at the time of the burning, according to Mayor Jeff Lunde.
It is not yet clear if insurance will cover cleanup related to smoke damage, Lunde said. If insurance does not cover the costs, the city will bear the cost, he said.
Prillaman said he has reviewed the events and found no mishandling by the department. All national standards for live fire training were followed that day, he said. The department documented wind directions before starting the fire, and there’s no way to control shifts in wind directions, he said. There was no way to prevent the damage that occurred, he said.
“The only element outside of our control was the wind,” Prillaman said.
Brooklyn Park has insurance through the League of Minnesota Cities. The league has sent inspectors to the homes, Lunde said.
Lunde said he has remained in contact with both homeowners, and the city is working to ensure the homes are repaired. Prillaman said all repairs will be made at no cost to the homeowners.
“I’ve been in constant contact, text messaging, and we have the central person at the city who’s working with them, talking to them daily, giving them dates, and we’ll make sure we take care of them,” Lunde said.
“It’s not a good thing,” Lunde added. “The city takes responsibility. This isn’t someone else’s fault. This is our fault, and we’re going to make sure that the homeowners are made whole.”
Prillaman called the incident an “unfortunate event” and said the department has apologized. The department replaced one of the homeowners mailboxes that was damaged the night of the incident, he said.
The total cost of the damage is yet to be determined.
This type of training is important for the fire department, Prillaman said. “It’s the most valuable training we can offer,” he said. The department is able to engage in this type of live fire training approximately once every year and a half, he said.
“We actually had four fire departments there. We had Brooklyn Center, Osseo, West Metro and Brooklyn Park,” said Lunde. “It’s a chance to train without having lives at risk,” he said.
As of press time, no heat damage was found internally at the homes, but inspections are ongoing, according to Lunde.
Contact Kevin Miller at [email protected]