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UPDATE: Blaze destroys La Pointe fire hall, ambulances, fire trucks

LA POINTE, MN —   Firefighters have been letting the fire go out on its own before they conduct their investigation. Officials we spoke with Wednesday said there were no injuries in the fire. But the incident has left many community members stunned.

Just before 3 Wednesday morning a call that no firefighter wants to hear, a fire at La Pointe Fire Hall.

“I was stunned. It is very vital to the community. We have voting here, we have meetings here,” said Ute Hodges who lives in La Pointe on Madeline Island.

Nearby Red Cliff, Bayfield, Washburn, and Ashland firefighters responded to the scene.
Along with losing all fire equipment, two ambulances, a fair amount of police equipment, and two sleeping rooms for police officers were totally destroyed.

“They have to stay overnight here. Right now they can go home because there’s an ice road, but normally the ferries don’t run in the middle of the night, so when they’d get off their shift they were sleeping in the fire hall,” said Lisa Potswald, La Pointe town administrator.

In the meantime, surrounding fire departments are forced to step up their services.

“We have mutual aid agreements with some of the departments in our area, so Bayfield and Redcliff and Washburn fire departments would respond should we have a medical emergency or a fire,” said Potswald.

But on an island of a little more than 250 people year-round, officials said it’s going to add 15 to 20 extra minutes to response time on Madeline Island.

“If there’s a fire out in the north end, and there’s a 15-minute extra wait, it could spell disaster for that part of the island,” said Hodges.

“The issue we have here though is the ice road only holds a certain weight of equipment, and so they couldn’t come over with any big vehicles. They’d have to come with their smaller vehicles, as they did last night,” said Potswald.

Officials said there are already plans to rebuild and community members said a new fire hall can’t come quick enough.

“We’re in need for this building. We can make do until things get going, but it would be a heck of a lot better if we had a building. So I’m sure the community will pull it together as best as they can,” said Hodges.

As of news time, officials had no word on the total cost of damages or what caused the fire.

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UPDATE: No one was injured, but the La Pointe Fire Department lost all of its ambulances and fire trucks along with some of the town’s police equipment during an early morning fire Wednesday that destroyed the only fire hall on Madeline Island.

According to the Town Administrator Lisa Potswald, as of 8 a.m., authorities say the fire was still burning. The fire was first reported around 3 a.m.

With many emergency response vehicles out of commission, Potswald said departments out of Washburn, Bayfield, and Red Cliff will be providing mutual aid.

KBJR 6 has inquired about what the expected response time will be, and we are waiting to hear back.

As of Wednesday afternoon, a cause of the fire hasn’t been determined. The Fire Marshal was on scene investigating.

This is a developing story. KBJR 6 will be updating this story throughout the day and will have the latest on the KBJR 6 news at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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According to Captain Scott Thimm of the Ashland Fire Department, there are reports of a partial collapse and fire at the La Pointe Fire Hall on Madeline Island in Wisconsin.

Thimm says they have dispatched a brush truck and a portable pump to the scene.

This is a developing story.

We will have more details as they become available.

Briggs LeSavage

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