A lake cabin in Prairie Lake Township exploded, demolishing the structure, just before noon on Saturday, Feb. 2. Fortunately, no one was injured or killed, as the cabin was not occupied at the time.
Andy Colburn, Robbie Weisshaar and Tim Frederick, all of Eau Claire, were in a neighboring cabin, about 40 yards to the south, when they heard the explosion.
The men were recording music at the cabin for their folk-Americana band, Witch Hunter General, and had caught the explosion on tape. It sounded like a loud thump.
“I thought someone hit the house with a car,” Weisshaar said. “The ground definitely shook.”
“I thought someone dropped something,” Frederick said.
“It was alarming,” Colburn added.
Colburn said they looked out the window and saw the cabin next door—or what was left of it—on fire. They called 911 and then put on their boots and coats and ran outside.
Other than some damage to the demolished cabin’s garage from flying debris, it appeared that other residences remained undamaged and no windows were broken. In the cabin the three men were in, the blast only knocked over a decoration in the kitchen.
The Cameron Fire Department responded, along with a tanker from the Chetek Fire Department. The Chetek Ambulance Service and Barron County sheriff’s deputies were also paged to the address at 2314 10th St., on the west side of Prairie Lake, north of Chetek.
Firefighters sprayed water on the rubble and pulled down some of the blown-out walls, said Cameron Fire Chief Mitch Hansen. Not much was left of the building, he said. No one was home at the time and there were no injuries, Hansen noted.
A cause was not known as of Saturday, but the Cameron Fire Department would be investigating the incident. Yellow police tape was put up to keep onlookers out of the debris and leave the site undisturbed for investigators.
Similar high-profile building explosions in the state have involved natural gas leaks. Hansen said the cabin did have a natural gas line, and firefighters had secured it and shut off the gas line after the blast.
County records said the property belongs to Richard and Sara Blomquist, of Chicago, Ill. A sheriff’s deputy said the owners had been contacted. Dispatch logs said a .22 rifle was found and taken for safe-keeping until the owners returned.