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A local house on fire on purpose

Five area fire departments participated in a training exercise Saturday that had a house valued at an estimated half a million dollars engulfed in flames.

The owner, Terrence Smith, purchased the house at 1850 River Ridge Road on a lot overlooking the St. Croix River for $900,000 this summer. He wanted the house burned down so he can replace it with a new one. Hudson Fire Chief Jim Frye said the owner allowed representatives from Habitat for Humanity to take any fixtures or furnishings they would be able to reuse from the house before the fire.

Firemen set six smaller fires inside the house for specific training experiences before letting the house go up in flames.

Firemen were on the scene from early morning until the late afternoon and doused the surrounding area with water throughout the exercise to avoid any risk to surrounding properties.

"This is probably the best training exercise we've ever had," said Frye. "It was a one-time opportunity that was very valuable to us."

Along with the HFD, participating departments came from Bayport and Lower St. Croix Valley in Minn., Roberts, River Falls and the town of St. Joseph.