Fire destroys Nisswa assistant fire chief’s home

Joe Hall, his wife and four children escape unharmed; home is a total loss

Firefighters warm up in Nisswa Assistant Fire Chief Joe Hall's garage after fighting a fire at Hall's home in the early morning hours Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023.
Contributed / Nisswa Fire Chief Shawn Bailey

NISSWA — A house fire is always devastating, but even more so for firefighters when it’s one of their own.

Sixteen Nisswa firefighters responded to Assistant Fire Chief Joe Hall’s home on the 4600 block of Lower Lake Road at 2:09 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, when the family’s wood stove sparked a fire in the chimney, Fire Chief Shawn Bailey said Friday, Feb. 24.

Hall, his wife, Sonja, and four children safely evacuated the home, which is a total loss with water and smoke damage, Bailey said.

Smoke detectors did not go off as smoke never entered the living area, Bailey said.

“The roof was burning off,” he said. “Upon my arrival, there was significant smoke and flames from the roof area."


Hall woke up to a crackling sound, looked out the window and saw the fire’s reflection in the snow, Bailey said. He had stoked his wood stove before going to bed.

“It looked like daylight outside,” Bailey said.

In addition to Nisswa firefighters, 10 Pequot Lakes firefighters, 13 Mission Township firefighters along with the Nisswa and Breezy Point police departments and North Ambulance responded and were on scene for five hours.

Winds were 40 mph with heavy snowfall that night. The area was in a winter storm warning.

“The conditions were not favorable,” Bailey said.

The firefighting community and beyond have stepped up to help the Halls.

While fighting the fire, firefighters started unloading family photo albums to save them. They and others from the community returned at 8 a.m. Thursday to salvage whatever else they could.

A meal train was set up through Timberwood Church in Nisswa and is nearly full for the Hall family.


“It’s amazing how it all unfolded and how the community is willing to help our own,” Bailey said.

Anyone who wants to help the family can email

Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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