Wind-whipped fire damages three homes in St. Paul's North End

A fire destroyed several homes.
A fire damaged several homes near the intersection of Western and Front avenues Wednesday afternoon, April 1, 2015 in St. Paul.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News

Updated: 5:45 p.m. | Posted: 3:45 p.m.

Strong winds and a downed power line ignited dried vegetation and triggered a fire in St. Paul's North End Wednesday that damaged three homes and a storage shed.

Nobody was injured, although firefighters were still fighting the fire two hours after the initial call at about 3 p.m.

"The wind was fierce, 40-50 mph gusts," St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard said. "The fire was actually blowing across the street when they pulled up, like a torch."

St. Paul firefighters arrived at Front and Western avenues to find one home fully engulfed. They began fighting the fire there but were advised to leave because of the severity of the fire, Zaccard said.

The two-alarm fire sent about 60 firefighters out. The fire started in one home and moved west to two other homes. The second home was severely damaged, while the third moderately damaged.

The home where the fire started was vacant, Zaccard said. The neighbors were able to get out without injury.

Crews were so focused on the large fire that they didn't realize a storage shed and garage on the north side also caught flames, Zaccard said. That's when additional crews were called out.

"We couldn't spare anybody from the big fire at that point," he said.

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