At approximately 7:10 p.m., Saturday, March 2, a structure fire was reported at 6849 U.S. Highway 51 in Hazelhurst.
The reporting party was Balie Strasburg, of North Country Taxidermy. Strasburg reported that when she walked out the door of their business she saw the fire and immediately called 911.
The structure was a large metal storage building, located behind the office area of SCS - Limited Construction Service Solutions, which is the former location of Stodola-Maas Construction.
Hazelhurst fire chief Jerry Ryden stated Sunday night that the fire originated on the end of the building where the furnace was located, and that the fire itself did not seem suspicious. Ryden also said that the company's insurance provider would probably make a determination as to the origin of the fire. Firefighters were on scene until approximately 11:30 p.m. Saturday night.
Ryden said that he and some others were at the scene again Sunday morning at about 8:15 a.m., and everything seemed fine, but they re-watered the south end of the peak of the building, where a small amount of smoke was detected, but "nothing that was going to go anywhere," he said.
Ryden also said the north end of the building contained a large amount of lumber and materials.
The fire could seen from the Bearskin Trail directly behind the engulfed structure, and many snowmobilers utilizing the trail stopped to watch the blaze.
Temperatures were dipping into the teens Saturday night as the responding fire departments battled the blaze for more than three hours.
Fire departments responding to the scene were Hazelhurst, Minocqua, Cassian and Lake Tomahawk. Other emergency personnel responding were the Oneida County Sheriff's Department, Oneida County Medic units, and Wisconsin Public Service.
Due to the robust nature of the fire, a water fill location for the fire departments' tankers was set up at Island City Lanes in Minocqua. Frigid temperatures caused icy conditions at the Island City Lanes fill location, and eventually forced the departments to shift their access to a secondary fill site at Lake Katherine.
Access to the interior of the structure was difficult, as there was no entrance or opening on the north side of the building. A heavy piece of machinery was brought in to break through the north side of the building, so that firefighters could attack the fire from both sides of the structure.
No other surrounding buildings were affected by the fire.
As of press time, a release from the Oneida County Sheriff's Department regarding the structure fire was not available.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation and a complete story will appear in a future edition of The Lakeland Times.