UPDATE: Blaze leveled business, destroyed vehicles and inventoryA fire early Wednesday morning, Jan. 27, at Aqua Mates near Houlton destroyed so much that owner Dean Laursen hasn’t decided yet whether he will continue to operate the swimming pool and spa business.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
A fire early Wednesday morning, Jan. 27, at Aqua Mates near Houlton destroyed so much that owner Dean Laursen hasn’t decided yet whether he will continue to operate the swimming pool and spa business.
The Aqua Mates showroom, warehouse and office were housed in the former dairy barn that burned.
The fire destroyed not only pools and spas, but equipment and a number of vehicles stored inside the building.
Bobcat loaders, service vehicles, a motor home, a snowmobile and a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle were lost in the blaze, too, Laursen’s wife, Cheryl, said Friday morning.
Firefighters were able to remove a computer containing business records from the building before it was damaged.
Fire departments from Somerset, St. Joseph, Hudson and Stillwater, Minn., battled the fire, which was reported at 4:12 a.m.
“It was his life. His business was his life,” Cheryl Laursen said when asked how her husband was dealing with the loss.
Another fire inspector was there that morning and Dean Laursen was busy dealing with the aftermath of the blaze.
Aqua Mates is a long-time St. Croix County business. Its Web site, www.aquamatesinc.com, says it works with customers on pool and spa projects “from the design and location selection, to excavation, construction, and cement finishing, and finally to maintenance and chemical needs.”
The business also sold WoodMaster free-standing furnaces for heating houses, garages, workshops and hot water systems.
Aqua Mates was located at 1519 23rnd St. in the town of Somerset, about three miles northeast of Houlton.
Cheryl Laursen said she and her husband were alerted of the fire when a neighbor pounded on their door at about 4:15 a.m. The Laursens reside in the house on the former farmstead.
The neighbor initially thought the flicker he saw from Aqua Mates building was an electric light, Cheryl said, but when he looked in that direction again 10 minutes later he saw smoke, too.
Laursen had insurance on the building, inventory, equipment and vehicles, his wife said, but “not enough” to cover all the loss.
She indicated that her husband probably won’t decide whether to rebuild the business until he has an idea of what the insurance settlements will be.
“We’re probably in a little bit of limbo,” she said.
Cheryl Laursen said the three fire inspectors who had examined the remains of the building hadn’t been able to determine what caused the fire.
New Richmond house fire
A house on 170th Avenue about six miles east of New Richmond was destroyed by fire early Thursday morning, Jan. 28.
The owner was awakened by his dog at about 1:30 a.m. to find the main floor of the four-story house engulfed in flames, the New Richmond News reported.
Firefighters from New Richmond, Baldwin, Deer Park, Hammond, Roberts and Somerset took turns battling the fire for 13 hours in the sub-zero cold, the New Richmond newspaper said.
The house, built in the 1800s, is reported to be a total loss.