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Explosion destroys garage, tractors in Hills

The Hills Fire Department was called to the Steve Horsman home following a garage fire Tuesday morning in Hills, destroying the garage and its contents. Preliminary investigations sited a light switch as the possible cause of the blaze. (BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE)

HILLS -- An explosion believed to have been caused by a malfunctioning electrical light and some gasoline rocked the town of Hills Tuesday morning and left a home without its attached two-stall garage. Two occupants of the home were uninjured.

The Hills Fire Department was paged to 200 S. Elizabeth Ave. at 7:39 a.m. to find flames coming out both garage doors and starting to break the roof line, according to Hills Fire Chief Jeff Bass.

Steve Horsman and his son made it safely out of the home before firefighters arrived on the scene.

"They heard it and luckily went out the front door instead of the door to the garage to investigate," said Bass. Firefighters rescued a pair of dogs that were still in the house.

Beaver Creek and Luverne Fire departments were paged for mutual aid, and the Hills Rescue and Rock County Ambulance also responded to the scene.

Bass said they had the flames under control in about 45 minutes, but several firefighters stayed on hand to monitor the situation until about noon. The garage was deemed a total loss, and a tractor, some lawn tractors and tools were lost to the blaze.

"We completely saved the house," said Bass. "I imagine there's going to be a bit of smoke damage, but very minimal."

The homeowners were fortunate in that a fire separation wall was installed between the garage and the house, he added.

"That's what saved the house," Bass said.

The explosion remains under investigation.

More information will be posted as it becomes available.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington and graduate of Worthington High School, then-Worthington Community College and South Dakota State University, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. At The Globe, Julie covers the agricultural beat, as well as Nobles County government, watersheds, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework (cross-stitch and hardanger embroidery), reading, travel, fishing and spending time with family. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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