Fire damages Ely rental home in bitter cold temps

by Nick Wognum
The Ely fire department battled a rental house fire in the middle of the night and had to fight bitter cold temperatures as well.
A female sleeping on the second level woke up with smoke in the air and escaped unharmed with her dog.
Ely fire chief Dave Marshall said they were paged just before midnight Wednesday night to a structure fire at 319 East Camp St. with smoke and flames visible on the second story.
“When we got there smoke was showing on all four side in the eaves. We sent an interior crew in but the visibility was really limited on the second floor.
“Eventually we gained access to the attic and sprayed water but we had to open the gable end toward Zup’s old store with the ladder truck. That cleared everything out,” said Marshall.
Battling the fire was made more difficult by the house having additions off the side.
“It’s not as simple of a house as it looks. Some rooms go off at a 90 degree angle,” said Marshall.
The department had to cut a hole in the roof to battle the fire.
“We don’t like to do that but we had to make sure the fire was out,” said Marshall. “It looked to me like a propane heater on the second floor may have been the cause of it that’s where fire appeared to be the hottest.”
There were 18 Ely and five Babbitt firefighters on the scene until after 3 a.m.
“It was cold, we had some lines freeze up when we were cleaning up,” said Marshall.
The home is owned by local attorney Rae Bentz.
The Ely Police Department and Ely Utilities assisted with the incident. Ely Utilities and Ely Public Works also assisted with managing the ice and thawing hydrants the following morning.