Weather Forecast


Home destroyed: Fire that began in wood-burning stove totals rural home

A Jamestown Rural Fire Department firefighter tries to put out the fire that destroyed a rural Eldridge, N.D., home Saturday. (Larry Phillips / Special to The Sun)

A fire that started in a wood-burning stove destroyed a rural Eldridge, N.D., home Saturday.

The call came in about 3:50 a.m., said Fire Chief Rick Woehl, of the Jamestown Rural Fire Department.

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When firefighters arrived on scene, about 2 1/2 miles south of Eldridge, there were flames visible through the house’s roof, Woehl said.

The blaze kept the Jamestown Rural Fire Department on scene until about 3 p.m., with seven firefighters and 14 fire trucks, Woehl said.

The fire started in the chimney, and the family had been burning their wood stove at the time, Woehl said.

“Either the chimney wasn’t cleaned, or if it was burning too hot, the liner in the chimney potentially failed,” he said.

Once the fire got from the chimney into the attic, it took the whole house, he said.

The family — a mother, father and child — escaped from the home safely, Woehl said. American Red Cross was on scene assisting the family and brought them to a motel, he said.

The house, a total loss, was valued at about $200,000, Woehl said.

As the rural firefighters fought the blaze from the early morning hours into the afternoon, they called for assistance from Jamestown’s city fire department.

“It was 10 below that morning, so we were fighting the elements as well,” Woehl said. “The guys were getting fatigued and cold, so we called the city for assistance.”

The Jamestown Fire Department’s five firefighters who assisted were on scene from about 8 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m., Woehl said.

That gave the rural firefighters a chance to put on dry gear and recuperate a little bit, he said.

The Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office was also “a big assistance,” Woehl said, because its officers called North Dakota Farmers Union to remove a propane tank that was near the house, just in case the flames spread.

The fire was contained to the house, though, Woehl said.

“It was a long day,” he said.

Sun reporter Charly Haley can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at

Charly Haley
Charly Haley covers city government for the Grand Forks Herald. As night reporter, she also has many general assignments. Before working at the Herald, she was a reporter at the Jamestown Sun and interned at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Detroit Lakes Newspapers and the St. Cloud Times. Haley is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, and her hometown is Sartell, Minn.
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