A fire destroyed Sather Family Dental and the clinic’s half completed expansion on Douglas Street in Chetek on Friday evening, Jan. 3.
Reports of the fire were received before 9 p.m. and Chetek, New Auburn, Cameron, Barron and Rice Lake fire departments were called to the scene. Rice Lake Fire Department deployed its aerial ladder to spray water from above.
Mayo Ambulance and Chetek Ambulance Service were called to stand by. It did not appear there were any injuries related to the fire. The dentist office was closed at the time.
Traffic down Second Street was detoured. Barron County Sheriff’s Department advised people to stay away from the area and give room to firefighters. Tanker trucks sped in and out of the area, bringing water to collapsible water tanks on Douglas Street. Water was pumped from city hydrants and the water tanks by fire engines and into the attack hoses of firefighters.
Dr. Nik Sather, owner and dentist, heard of the fire through his son, who received a message about it. He said he raced to the office, hoping it was just smoke and that he might be able to put out any fire with a fire extinguisher. But he arrived just as firefighters did, finding that the inferno had already overtaken the building. He didn’t know where the fire might have started.
Sather said firefighters went in through the back and retrieved the nitrous oxide tanks—laughing gas—from the building.
An addition on the east side of the building, started in November 2019, had been framed in and drywall was to be installed starting Monday, Jan. 6, Sather said.
Sather was just starting the process of figuring out what to do about his dental practice and the patients that had upcoming appointments. Patient records are backed up and secured off site every night, Sather said. He hoped to have more information to pass along by Monday, Jan. 6, in regards to setting up a temporary office and the status of patients' appointments.
His insurance agent had already been to the scene, Sather said.
In Step Dance Studio, which occupied space in the basement of the building, posted to Facebook saying they had heard about the fire and asked people to not send the business any messages.
“We are deeply saddened by the situation and are in the process of figuring things out,” the post for In Step Dance Studio stated.
Barron County Highway Department plow trucks were sanding and salting the roads. Water from firefighting was freezing on the streets, making things slick and slushy.
Firefighters were working to pump water from Lake Chetek near the Chetek Dam.
Neighboring buildings, including Sandals Spa, Chetek VFW Post 10331, U.S. Post Office, Hope & Anchor Coffeehouse, B and B Bar & Grill, Six Lakes Realty, Carpe Diem, apartments and residences appeared to be unharmed by the fire.
The fire appeared mostly under control by 10:30 p.m. Cameron Fire Department, which sent water tenders, left the scene around 12:30 a.m.
Firefighters went inside the building, reporting no more flames in the new addition by 12:36 a.m.
This story will be updated as more information is gathered. The full story and additional photos will be published in the Wednesday, Jan. 8, edition of The Chetek Alert.