North Hudson billed $26,000 and counting for warehouse fireNorth Hudson village officials are pondering what to do with $26,000 in bills from the Dec. 11-12 fire that destroyed a St. Croix Storage and Transfer Co. warehouse.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
North Hudson village officials are pondering what to do with $26,000 in bills from the Dec. 11-12 fire that destroyed a St. Croix Storage and Transfer Co. warehouse.
Village officials met Monday night with their attorney to review the bills from area fire departments and state agencies that helped fight the blaze, according to Village Administrator Gloria Troester.
“We’ve got so many unanswered questions right now that we’re doing more investigating,” Troester said, when asked what the village intends to do with the bills.
“There were different things thrown around. I’m assuming that you go back after the property owner. That’s what they have insurance for,” she added.
The bills are coming to the Hudson Fire Department, which is forwarding them to the village.
Troester said village officials also are looking into what fire departments have mutual aid agreements with the city, and what those agreements say.
“We’re taking a look at what our payment to the city should cover in a case like this, versus what is above and beyond,” she said.
The Hudson Fire Department operates under the city of Hudson, which bills the other municipalities in the fire district for protection.
Troester said she’s been told that more bills are likely to arrive from non-mutual aid departments that helped fight the fire at the 50,000-square-foot warehouse.
Fire Chief Jim Frye told members of the city’s Public Safety Committee on Jan. 5 that 43 fire departments and at least 200 firefighters participated in the effort at one time or another.
The blaze was reported just before 11 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 11, and firefighters remained on the scene until 5:15 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12.
In a phone call Tuesday morning, Frye said he requested assistance from Wisconsin Emergency Management when it became apparent that his own department and surrounding mutual aid departments wouldn’t be able to see the firefighting effort through to the end.
“We had exhausted all of our normal resources,” Frye said, “and the fire was still continuing and was projected to continue for some time.”
Sub-zero temperatures that night and a low water supply in North Hudson increased the need for additional tankers and fire crews.
Frye said the request he made to St. Croix County Emergency Manager Jack Colvard, which he forwarded to the state agency, was for fire-suppressing foam, personnel and a management team to spell the Hudson team.
The St. Croix County fire departments and three in Minnesota (Lower St. Croix Valley, Stillwater and Bayport) that Hudson has mutual aid agreements with won’t be billing for their services, Frye said.
It is the non-mutual aid departments that came from as far away as the village of Boyd east of Chippewa Falls that are seeking to recoup their expenses, Frye said.
The fire department also has bills for fuel, foam and portable toilets.
Frye said the village of North Hudson is responsible for the bills under its contract with the fire department for fire protection.
“How they recover or recoup those costs, they’re working on that,” he said. “It’s kind of a rarity (that this happens).”
Frye told the Public Safety Committee that the effort was a success from a firefighting standpoint.
The computer system and data from St. Croix Storage’s office was saved so the business could continue operating the next day, he said.
Also, a warehouse building 15 feet away and all of its contents were saved, Frye said, and all of the 200 firefighters that participated in the operation went home without an injury.
North Hudson resident Dan Barber owns and operates St. Croix Storage and Transfer.