By Kelsie Hoitomt
KNAPP – Flames broke out and quickly consumed Pit Stop Tire and Auto Center in Knapp on Tuesday, February 11 around 6:00 p.m.
According to the Menomonie Fire Department report by Battalion Chief Denny Klass, the incident began after Jeremy Rosencranz was cutting a piece of metal on a work bench.
Rosencranz left to work on a vehicle and then a employee noticed about ten minutes later that the bench was on fire, which appeared to be caused by sparks igniting gasoline near the area.
Rosencranz attempted to use a fire extinguisher, but his efforts were unsuccessful. The fire quickly escalated and they rushed to get customers’ vehicles out of the garage before the concern over safety became prominent.
As the fire engulfed the shop, the Menomonie, Boyceville and Glenwood City Fire Departments began fighting the flames.
The shop was filled with tires and petroleum products, which created a hot, long burning fire that took several hours to fully extinguish.
The Mutual Aid Box Alarm System sent out a call, which was responded to by basically every department in Dunn County. Colfax, Durand, Elk Mound, Rock Creek and Sand Creek also assisted in providing manpower, equipment and water.
Village workers helped turn on water pumps and also removed snow so the Knapp Pond could be accessed. Dunn County workers were also called in to keep Highway 12 clear and salted.
The Red Cross was also contacted and delivered hot drinks and food.
The building, which was estimated to have been built in the 1940s, was also home to Jeremy. He owned the business with partner, Jim Morrow.
Jeremy, his shop dog and the employees were all able to get out of the burning building safely.
The report also stated that Jeremy was able to remove a safe and cash register from the building, but both were severely damaged. Due to the severity of the fire, there was nothing else in the building to salvage.
The report estimates the dollar loss and value of the property to be at $216,000 and the contents at $108,000. Those figures were given by Insurance Adjustor, Doug Fall who also ruled the building a total loss.
The following day, Klass’ report states that “the fire is being ruled accidental and caused by hot work operations, specifically cutting/grinding on metal that was located near flammable liquids.”