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No more rat house

Osakis Assistant Fire Chief Craig Dropik provided this drone image of the controlled burn at 212 Eighth Avenue East. 1 / 3
Osakis firefighters attack the rat house from the side of the building. (Al Edenloff / Osakis Review)2 / 3
Firefighters douse a tree in the front yard of the rat house to prevent the fire from spreading. (Al Edenloff / Osakis Review)3 / 3

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.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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