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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — A northbound semi truck that caught on fire and pulled over on Main Street across from The Outhouse Bar in Colfax was a total loss.
The Colfax Community Fire Department was called out at around 2 p.m. Thursday, August 13, on the report of a semi on fire on Main Street.
The semi, which was hauling turkey fertilizer, belonged to CWR Trucking out of Bloomer, said Don Logslett, fire chief.
After the newspaper office had been alerted about the fire and the reporter had grabbed her camera and was on her way out the door to walk the two blocks to the fire scene, one of the semi tires exploded.
The explosion rattled the newspaper office.
The Colfax Messenger arrived at the fire scene just as firefighters with the Colfax fire department pulled up with the pickup truck carrying the department’s new ultra-high-pressure system.
By that time, the semi tractor was fully engulfed in flames.
The high-pressure system immediately began to knock down the fire, and a few minutes later, the department’s fire engine arrived.
Logslett said he was extremely pleased with the ultra-high-pressure system and that it only took 50 gallons of water to put out the fire.
The ultra-high-pressure system condenses a stream of water to the size of a BB that works to cool a fire fast using very little water.
Big Rig Towing out of Eau Claire hauled away what was left of the semi, Logslett said, noting that the semi was a total loss.
At the time Logslett was reached for comment on Friday morning, he had not yet had an opportunity to read any of the reports about the semi fire and could provide no other details.
Although the semi fire was less than a stone’s throw away from several houses on the east side of Main Street, including the Colfax Railroad Museum’s 122-year-old wooden depot, none of the structures caught on fire.
No injuries were reported, except for William Sakalaucks, chairman of the Colfax Railroad Museum, who took off running to get a second hose and sprained his ankle.
The semi driver used a garden hose from a nearby house to apply water to the fire until the fire department arrived.
The Colfax Community Fire Department was awarded a $25,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation to purchase an ultra-high-pressure system.
The Colfax fire board approved spending $20,000 for a used pickup truck at a June of 2019 meeting when Logslett reported he was planning to apply for the grant.
The Colfax fire department, along with fire departments from surrounding communities, gathered at Tom Prince Memorial Park in Colfax the evening of March 21, 2018, for a demonstration of the Hydrus Droplet high-pressure system.
Three cars were set on fire at the ball park, and the ultra-high-pressure system put out the fires in about 15 seconds using only eight gallons of water.
The advantage in a rural fire district is that an ultra-high-pressure system mounted on a pickup truck is able to reach a fire faster than the regular fire trucks and can start to fight the fire before the other equipment arrives.