Wishek Firefighters Battle Explosive Blaze in Extreme Cold - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Wishek Firefighters Battle Explosive Blaze in Extreme Cold

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A historic building in Wishek is still smoldering after a fire breaks out in the heart of town.

Central Iron is a family-owned welding business that started on fire early Sunday.

Firefighters battled the flames during extreme cold conditions, but ultimately the business is a total loss.

"As soon as I got close enough and I could see the smoke, I knew it was pretty much gone." says James Fandrich, Central Iron owner.

"There was a lot of fire damage inside before we even got here." says Dave Just, Wishek Fire Chief.

Dave Just has been fire chief in Wishek for less than a month when he was faced with what might be the most dangerous fire of his career.

"It was a very hazardous building to start on fire, probably one of the worst buildings in town that we would have to deal with." says Just.

Luckily no one was inside, but the volunteer fire responders did have to try and stop the flames from spreading while dealing with explosive materials going off, and the kind of cold that can kill you.

"Coldest I've ever had to experience this, yes." says Dave Just.

"We both walked around periodically making sure people took rests, go in, warm up, make sure they can feel their fingers says Rocky Brown, Assistant Fire Chief.

Firefighters soaked nozzles in buckets of hot water and took turns warming up in a nearby business.

The main tanker however actually froze to the ground at one point.

It did keep pumping out water, which was all they really needed to fight the fire.

"We don't know what the cause was yet, and somebody could've definitely been hurt." says James Fandrich, Central Iron owner.

The owner of the building lost to fire says he's thankful no one was working and that firefighters were able to save nearby structures, right next door you can see where firefighters blasted their water, now turned into inches of ice, protecting it from the flames.

"We felt we were unable to save this so we focused on the structures around it." says Just.

Around 25 volunteer members worked through the cold to save this building.

It also belongs to the owner of the Central Iron.

"It's tough, you build a business, and you accumulate a lot of stuff that it's going to be hard to replace." says James.

One thing that will never be replaced, neighbors that show support in big and small ways during the toughest of times.

"Community business owners, moms dads whatever, everybody came out, we had probably another 30 people helping and scrambling, food was donated to us, it was unbelievable how the community came together." says Dave Just.

"Unbelievable, the calls the texts, people stopping by... people have offered equipment, their backs and everything, it's unbelievable everybody wants to help." says Fandrich.

One firefighter was treated and released for smoke inhalation.

The cause remains under investigation.

The owner of the Central Iron says they do not have a loss estimate yet--but it will be assessed by an insurance adjustor--and decide from there, whether or not to rebuild.

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