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Cigarette causes fire at The Wharf

Ye Old Wharf stands in the background of this file photo. Photo courtesy Facebook.

A smoldering cigarette butt caused a fire at The Wharf in Crosslake Wednesday that was quickly contained.

The situation could have been much different though, according to Neil Luzar, assistant chief of the Crosslake Fire Department.

"If this would have happened at closing time this would have been a totally different scenario," Luzar said. "That place would have burned for quite some time. We don't have the people up here right now to even drive by and notice that a building's on fire. ... For them to recognize they had a problem and dial 911, that was a very key thing to get us there fast and to move quickly and get it out."

The fire department was paged shortly after 5 p.m. to respond to the structure fire, which started on an exterior wall and burned through to the interior. Luzar said he called for mutual aid from the Ideal Fire Department for use of a ladder truck and for manpower.

"I wanted to make sure it didn't get away from us," he said.

Ten firefighters responded to the scene and the building was evacuated of employees and customers. Luzar said firefighters removed Sheetrock and insulation from the burning section to prevent the fire's spread, leaving a hole in the wall.

After the fire was extinguished, staff patched the hole. Luzar said there was no smoke damage inside and The Wharf was ready to reopen for business. Firefighters cleared the scene by 6:12 p.m.

Quick action and smart thinking by employees kept a dangerous situation from becoming worse, Luzar added.

"I would like people to recognize that if they do have a fire of any size in their home or at a commercial building, the sooner they do call 911 the better off they are," Luzar said. "Fires do get away from people and they think they can battle them and not have to call us, but it's always best to call us."

CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 Follow on Twitter

Chelsey Perkins

Chelsey Perkins grew up in Crosslake and is a graduate of Pequot Lakes High School. She earned her bachelor's degree in professional journalism at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Perkins interned at the Lake Country Echo and the Rochester and Austin Post-Bulletins, and also worked for the student-run Minnesota Daily newspaper as a copy editor and columnist during college. She went on to intern at Utne Reader magazine, where she was later hired as the research editor. Before becoming the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch, Perkins worked as the county government beat reporter at the Dispatch and a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal.

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