A vacant, hazardous structure known as the "rat house" in Osakis is gone.

The building at 212 Eighth Avenue East was destroyed by fire Saturday, April 27 - on purpose.

The Osakis Fire Department used the house as a controlled burn exercise. Firefighters set parts of the building on fire and sharpened their skills at dousing the flames and containing the blaze.

Next door neighbors turned the event into a celebration of sorts - serving coffee and doughnuts while they watched the fire eliminate a problem they and the city have been dealing with for years.

The abandoned house, which eventually went through foreclosure and was owned by a bank in South Carolina, had been overrun with rats at some point. The rodents not only were running rampant in the house but were running around the neighborhood as well.

Despite repeated nuisance warnings from the city, police department and public health, the property owner failed to fix the problems. Finally, the property was sold to someone else who let the firefighters take care of things.

As thick clouds of black smoke curled into the air and flames spread through the building, some of the neighbors expected to see hordes of rats fleeing from the house but only a few bats fluttered free.

A firefighter quipped that the house was in such bad shape that the rats probably moved out months ago.