A 3 a.m. fire in a farm house north of Minburn brought the volunteer fire departments of Minburn and Dallas Center to the scene Friday, where single-digit temperatures froze their valves and lines and hampered the swift control of the fire.
Minburn Volunteer Fire Department Chief James West said the house was already fully engulfed by the time his team arrived.
"The upwind side of the house caught first," West said, "and the wind just blew the fire right through the place." He said the firefighters had "major problems" with the high winds and the temperature’s effect on the water. The Adel fire department provided additional water in the effort.
The house was the family home of Dwaine Collins, 83, who lived alone in the two-story house with several pet dogs.
Judy Schultze, a neighbor and friend of Collins for nearly 50 years, said he is "still traumatized" by the events of Friday.
"He’s lived there his whole life, just like his parents and his sister did," Schultze said, "and to lose all that and get out with nothing but the clothes on his back has been very, very hard for him."
Collins is disabled and gets around with the help of a walker, Schultze said. She said two Dallas County Deputy Sheriffs were first on the scene of the quickly spreading fire and assisted Collins in exiting the house.
The deputies even had to use some gentle pressure in order to remove Collins from the burning structure, West said, because he did not want to leave any of his dogs behind.
Schultze said she has been deeply touched by the generosity people have shown toward her old friend since the fire, from the doctors and nurses who treated him at Dallas County Hospital to his cousin and other local friends, with whom Collins is staying until he gets situated in new rooms in Perry.
"We’ve lived across the road from Dwaine since 1966 or ’67," Schulte said, "and we’ve seen a lot of community support for him since this happened."