By Dan Nienaber
---- — MANKATO — A source of more than a dozen years of happy memories with family and friends was lost Wednesday morning when a wood stove fire spread, destroying a shed before firefighters could douse the blaze.
"My husband and my sons built that shed with help from a lot of friends," Rebecca Rasmussen said. "It's going to be missed. Darby had horse shoe pits out there, so in the winter they could throw horse shoes."
Firefighters were first called to the Darby and Rebecca Rasmussen residence at 46821 Highway 169 at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday night. The wood stove in their shed had caught fire shortly after they had left it and gone inside for dinner. A woman driving past on the highway stopped to tell them flames were coming out of the roof.
The Rasmussens were able to get a lot of their things out of the shed and firefighters put that fire out after just minimal damage was done, Rebecca Rasmussen said.
The second fire, likely a rekindling of Tuesday night's fire in the stove, was much further along before a man stopped just before 7 a.m. Wednesday morning to tell the Rasmussens the shed was burning again, said Mike McCarthy, assistant fire chief with the St. Peter Volunteer Fire Department.
"It was fully engulfed when we got there," he said. "There wasn't much we could do to save it."
The things that had been taken out of the shed Tuesday night were put back in after the first fire was out, Rasmussen said. They were able to get her Jeep and a couple other things out again Wednesday morning but there were a lot of items lost in the fire.
Firefighters from St. Peter and Kasota, as well as Nicollet County sheriff's deputies who were on the highway directing traffic, had to deal with below zero temperatures as they worked.
"It was freezing cold and that made the job more difficult," McCarthy said. "Your hands get cold, your feet get cold and everything you spray turns into ice."
Extremely cold weather also freezes the respirators used by firefighters when they go into smoke-filled buildings, he said.
The area all around the shed was covered with ice Wednesday morning. Rasmussen said she had to warn an inspector to not drive up to the building because the ice could make it difficult to drive out again. An excavator was brought to the property to knock the building down because it was a total loss.
"All of the fire departments were great and I'm so glad we have them," Rasmussen said. "Those poor guys stood out there and they were cold. They're a great group of people."
*This story was changed from its original version to clarify McCarthy said the fire rekindled in the wood stove.