“I was 9 holes in, we got a panicked call from my wife saying that there is a fire in the back yard, what should I do, how do I turn on the sprinkler system,” said Koschak.
As he headed home, Koschak could see the smoke getting bigger.
“We ran in and grabbed some garden hoses and went out in the back yard and started spraying because the fire was right up against the grass.”
While the fire burned up to the back yard, his home was safely fifty feet away. Byut others were closer. It was scary watching 30 foot flames rolling across the open marsh.
“The wind was howling, the only thing I felt like we would be OK is if it was blowing from the house into the marsh,” said Koshak. “We knew it was going across the marsh toward City Hall really fast and it did.”
The DNR called in water dropping airplanes and a helicopter that could target the fire from above. Firefighters from SBM, Centennial Fire, Ham Lake, the DNR and the National Forest Service were all called in.
“A couple times firefighters were getting flanked by the fire. It was a very scary and dangerous situation for them,” said Blaine Police Captain Mark Boerboom. “It was very dry back there and the winds really pushed it very quickly.”
By mid-afternoon, firefighters were able to get control as the fire reached 109th Avenue, which served as a sort of fire break. By then it had scorched 83 acres, including this wooded area behind Blaine City Hall where DNR crews worked for hours to put out hot spots.
Bill Koschak says it was too close for comfort.
“It’s the third time since we’ve been here that there’s been a fire in the marsh area,” said Koschak. “Once it burned the siding off of houses, the other time it burned and didn’t get anything. Today I think we’re fortunate as well. Really lucky nobody got hurt. The firefighters and the DNR have been great.
Several businesses and the Victory Links golf course were evacuated as a precaution. Firefighters were deployed to protect homes in the neighborhood, and none were damaged. At last report, the cause was still under investigation.