Burnin' down the house
Things got pretty hot on Church Hill Road Saturday, June 4.
A vacant house, located right across the street from St. Anne's Church, was used for training by the Somerset Fire/Rescue, St. Joe Fire and members of Hudson Fire. Instructors from WITC were also on-hand.
The Somerset Fire/Rescue Department had been using the empty house for smoke training in prior weeks, but June 3 was the date for the full-scale burn.
Firefighters were on-site at 8 a.m. to prepare for the training. Throughout the morning, each room was burned to allow the firefighters to train in a smoke-filled room.
Gray and black columns of smoke funneled out of the first-floor windows. Flames could be seen in the basement windows just after noon.
A crowd had gathered to witness the fire. Several people from a local photography club snapped photos as the flames gained momentum. Other bystanders were using their cell phones to record the blaze.
By 1:30 p.m., the flames had spread to the second story and sections of the roof were collapsing. The St. Croix County had closed off several blocks of Church?Hill Road due to the close proximity of the house to the street.
Once the house was entirely engulfed in flames, the crowd that had gathered to watch from across the street had to back up from the intense heat.
Firefighters started spraying water around the edges of the house to ensure the flames did not leap to the trees or nearby houses. The Somerset Fire/Rescue Department did take time to pose for a group photo with the blazing house as a backdrop.
Half of the house collapsed with a loud crackling sound. One of the firefighters was heard commenting that the internal temperature of the house was around 1,200 degrees.
By 2:30 p.m. the final section of the house fell, though a few supports still stood amongst the smoldering rubble.
Chief Travis Belisle of the Somerset Fire/Rescue said his department was grateful for this opportunity.
"Not that often that we have a house to burn," said Belisle. "It went very well."