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Fire burns in box cars

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Fire crews responded to a fire that broke out inside a row of boxcars Friday night in the 2000 block of 145th Street E in rural Rosemount. A passerby driving down County Road 42 noticed the flames and reported the fire at 11:21 p.m.

“Anything glowing at 11:30 at night is going to stand out,” fire chief Richard Schroeder said. “It’s not your normal bonfire. I was told it was like daylight out there.”

Schroeder said the fire was contained to the 10 boxcars, which were lined up side by side with three to four feet between each one. Nobody was injured and the property owners were not around at the time. The boxcars were being used to store antique tractors and tractor parts, which Schroeder said were a total loss.

Fire marshall Kevin Benshoof said the fire was caused by one of the owner’s grandchildren and a worker from Vic’s Grain welding platforms in between the railroad cars to offload the tractors inside. They had poured water on the platforms and sprayed them with a fire extinguisher before leaving the property, but the platforms still caught fire.

“They did not see any smoke or flames when they left, but the metal stays hot,” Benshoof said.

The fire was on the back side of the property along a wooded lane with no fire hydrants. Eagan and Inver Grove Heights each sent a tender to assist with the fire, while Apple Valley sent one truck to the site and another to Fire Station No. 1 to cover any other fire calls in the city.

Schroeder said crews had knocked down the majority of the fire by 2 or 3 a.m. but remained on the scene until 8:00 the next morning, cutting holes in each box car to gain access and to get the fire hoses inside. They had to use specialized torches from the Dakota County Special Operations Team to cut holes in the cars, which were unstable because they had been burning, and some of the bottoms had burned out.

“We weren’t sure what was in there,” Schroeder said.

Fire crews returned to the site Monday morning to continue putting out areas that were still smoldering. Benshoof said there were still a few hot spots here and there, but nothing he was concerned about. He returned to the site once more on Tuesday to make sure everything was safe.

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