WOODLAND — A home that was under construction on Lake Minnetonka's Lower Lake was completely destroyed in a fire the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 12.
The cause of the fire had not been determined as of Monday, Feb. 17.
The fire at the home on the 2700 block of Gale Road in Woodland was called in at 6:15 p.m. on Feb. 12, and by the time firefighters arrived the structure was fully engulfed, Wayzata Fire Chief Kevin Klapprich told Lakeshore Weekly News (the Wayzata Fire Department contracts with the city of Woodland for its fire coverage).
There are no fire hydrants in the area, so all the water had to be hauled in using tankers, Klapprich said. And the frigid temperatures, which dropped to below zero with wind chills colder than -20 that night, made it "tough ... harder on everybody and everything," Klapprich said, noting it's hard to stay warm and everything freezes when it's that cold outside.
No injuries were reported, but the structure is a total loss, Klapprich said.
According to Hennepin County records, the property on the 2700 block of Gale Road in Woodland was purchased in 2017 for $5.4 million. Records list the construction year as 2019, with Klapprich noting the home was still under construction at the time of the fire.
The property's owner, Jim Davis, of the Davis family which owns Minnesota-based Cambria, spoke with KSTP-TV, saying the most important thing is that no one was hurt; everything else is just "stuff."
It took about three hours for firefighters to get the "bulk of the flame down," Klapprich said. However, the site was still smoldering days later, with smoke seen rising from the charred ruins the morning of Saturday, Feb. 15.
"I haven’t been there for a couple days but, yes, there are a few hot spots burning in the basement," Klapprich said on Monday, Feb. 17. "Firefighters were on scene from 6:15 p.m. Wednesday evening when the call came in until approximately 9 a.m. Thursday. Police and fire have been checking the scene periodically."
Approximately 125 firefighters from 15 different fire departments responded to the fire, Klapprich said. This was one of the larger fires the Wayzata Fire Department has fought, and their twice-monthly training, which sometimes includes training with nearby departments, prepared them to knock down the flames.
"We train more than we use our training and that's a good thing," he said.
Soon after the fire was reported, a massive plume of black smoke could be seen billowing from Gale Road, the sky in the area was glowing orange and flames were visible across the lake, from Ferndale Road in Wayzata. The fire caused so much smoke that the National Weather Service tweeted Feb. 12 saying the fire produced "a very large smoke plume that has reached southern Scott County." The plume could be seen on radar images.
Several emergency vehicles blocked and directed traffic at the intersection of Breezy Point Road and Maplewood Road, which leads to Gale Road, on Feb. 12. In nearby Deephaven, a fire department vehicle and two firefighters were seen filling up the truck at a hydrant. By 7:45 a.m. on Feb. 13, the intersection was clear and vehicles had access to Gale Road.
An orange fence with "keep out" signs now lines the property to prevent people from gaining access to the site. Around 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, several people — two people on foot, one on a snowmobile and a few people and two dogs on a sled pulled by a snowmobile — took advantage of the warmer weather and went out on Lake Minnetonka to check out the charred ruins of the home, snapping photos and walking up to the fence to get a better look.
On nearby Robbinson's Bay, south of the site of the fire, the snow was a gray-ish color and pieces of charred material were scattered on the snow-covered ice. Klapprich says these pieces are likely ash from the fire.