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North Hudson pays December fire bills

The gutted remains of a building belonging to St. Croix Storage and Transfer are a grim reminder of the Dec. 12 fire that destroyed the 50,000-square-foot building on the grounds of the old North Hudson car shops. The Village Board has approved payment of $40,000 in bills from some of the 43 fire departments that fought the blaze. Photo by Jon Echternacht

North Hudson will pay nearly $40,000 in costs billed to the village from outside fire departments for the fire Dec. 11-12 at the St. Croix Storage and Transfer Co. warehouse on the site of the former railroad car shop yards.

The board voted to approve claims of $171,315.85 for December and January that included $39,915.69 for fighting the fire.

President Larry Larsen said the village has an agreement with the Hudson Fire Department that provides protection for North Hudson. The agreement includes a mutual aid pact with surrounding departments that covers 98 percent of normal situations.

"The fire at the car shops was an extensive, extraordinary event," he said, particularly in the use of (fire suppressing) foam, that ran up a $19,000 bill.

Larsen said 43 fire departments participated in fighting the blaze and some $13,455 was billed by fire departments outside the mutual aid area that included Elk Mound, Boyd, Boyceville, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie.

There was also a $19,000 tab for contracted heavy equipment needed to control the fire, Larsen said.

The finance committee moved to pay the normal bills plus the costs associated with fighting the fire. Larsen said the bill for the fire initially topped out at $43,915.69 but was expected to be reduced by $4,000.

"The village will meet its obligation to the city (Hudson) and recoup the dollars from the property owner," said Larsen. "There may be additional small bills in the future," he added.

Trustee George Klein said, "This fire would have cost us a whole lot more had it not been for mutual aid."

Dan Barber of North Hudson owns St. Croix Storage and Transfer.

The presumption is that fire insurance on the building will cover the village's bill.

The fire was reported just before 11 p.m. on Dec. 11 and wasn't secured until 5:15 p.m. the next day. Sub-zero temperatures and a low water supply in the village created the need for extra tanker trucks.

An estimated 200 firefighters - without injury - participated in the blaze at the 50,000-square-foot building.

In other business at the Feb. 3 meeting, the board:

  • Authorized soliciting loans in the amount of $31,000 for new squad car and security windows in the administrative offices at the Village Hall by a 6-0 margin. Trustee Jim Thomas was absent. The first of two annual payments on the three-year loan is due in 2010.
  • Was formally introduced to new deputy clerk Becky Milbrandt of Houlton who started in the part-time position Jan. 14.
  • Released a letter of credit to Delta Construction for $16,687.50 relating to improvements made to the seventh addition of Sommers Landing subdivision.
  • Renewed a contract for tree and stump removal with St. Croix Tree Service. Fees included $175 per tree and $40 a stump.
  • Approved Jim O'Conner as the village's representative on the library board for a three-year term beginning May 1.
  • Announced that because of a statewide primary election Feb. 17, the Public Works Committee meeting would be held Feb. 18 at 6 p.m.
  • Announced that because of the April 7 spring election, there would be two regular board meetings next month, on March 3 and March 31.

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