Fire raging near Highway 10 Highway 10 turned into a corridor of smoke and flame Thursday morning, April 1, as firefighters battled a half-dozen fires between Perham and New York Mills.
Residents of at least five mobile homes and houses were evacuated about five miles west of New York Mills.
By noon, helicopter and airplane tankers were flying overhead in south Perham-dropping fire retardant chemical in effort to stop the spread to homes and businesses.
The first blaze Perham firefighters were called to was at the intersection of Highway 228 and Highway 10, around 9 a.m. This call was followed by additional firefighters requested at fires that broke out in the ditch on Highway 10 (just across from the Perham Pamida), and east of town on 410th Street. Traffic was halted on 410th Street.
"Too dangerous to go down there," said Deputy Steve Brandner, Otter Tail County Sheriff's Department who was stationed at the intersection of Highway 10 and 410th Street.
Commercial, industrial and residential buildings along Fort Thunder Road, on the south side of Perham, were threatened by fire that covered several acres. Bauck Bus Company, with its fleet of Perham school buses, was under siege, surrounded on three sides by a fire that burned to within a few feet of the structure.
Firefighters from at least five area departments were called into action; as well as DNR crews. The DNR brought in smaller vehicles that were able to maneuver in closer to the fires.
Nearly every police officer, deputy and State Trooper on the east side of Otter Tail County was on hand, con-trolling traffic at several points along Highway 10-as tankers, pump trucks and rescue rigs pulled along the shoulders. Ottertail city, Per-ham, Dent, New York Mills and Vergas were on the scene.
More departments will likely be responding as brisk, dry winds fan the flames.
There are unconfirmed re-ports of homes burning on the south side of Perham.
An ambulance was dis-patched to the Fort Thunder Road area, but details of any injuries are unconfirmed at this time.
Vergas firefighters led the effort at another Highway 10 fire that occurred simultaneously, at the Highway 228 intersection, northwest of Vergas.
Sparks from rail cars on the Burlington Northern- Santa Fe line are the suspected cause of several of the fires.
But the origin of the fire south of Perham is uncertain, as the location was across the highway-at least a mile from the railroad tracks.