An electrical problem caused the fire that destroyed a tire and auto shop in Birtle last week, according to a government spokesperson. There was a failure at a junction box that ignited nearby combustibles.
Miniota Fire Department Chief Nick Young said the renter of Birtle Tire and Auto called in the fire at approximately 9:15 a.m. Tues. March 5.
Birtle Fire Department was dispatched to the fire first, and the Miniota and Shoal Lake departments were called in to assist. About 25 – 30 firefighters worked the scene, getting flames under control by 12:30 p.m. By the time it was fully out, the building and contents were a complete loss.
"It’s totally destroyed," Young said. "We had to evacuate two or three buildings to the east just because of the heavy smoke." One of the buildings evacuated was the municipal office but no damage was done to it or other property.
The owner of the business did not want to speak to the media when asked for comment. However, a post on the Birtle Tire and Auto Facebook page said they were getting tools and supplies organized so the shop can reopen in a rented space soon.
They posted on March 6: “We should be up and running again in another location in about a week’s time. Huge thank you goes out to Bick's Auto in Elkhorn for working with us with spare shop equipment as well as a wheel alignment machine.... Also to McMunn and Yates out of Russell for delivering renovations supplies (lumber etc).”
Damage is estimated at $1 million.