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House destroyed by fire in rural Hills

HILLS -- A home in rural Hills is a total loss after fire broke out in its basement Monday afternoon.

The Hills Fire Department was paged at 3:11 p.m. to the house fire located three miles east and two miles north of Hills.

Fire Chief Jeff Bass said two people were at home when the fire broke out, and escaped after smelling smoke.

Firefighters from Hills, Beaver Creek, Luverne and Ellsworth were called to assist, mostly providing needed manpower because of temperatures exceeding 95 degrees.

The old farm house created some challenges for firefighters because it consisted of several additions and old roof lines, Bass said.

"We couldn't get to some of the attic spaces," he added.

Bass said the blaze was initially ruled an accidental electrical fire that started in an unfinished basement. By the time he arrived on the scene from his job in Sioux Falls, S.D., firefighters were dealing with a fully-engulfed main floor and partially engulfed upstairs.

Firefighters remained on the scene until about 6:30 p.m. and were called back a short time later because of a flare-up. By about 8:30 p.m., they had returned to the fire hall.

In addition to mutual aid from three other departments, the Rock County Ambulance was on the scene. Aside from some cases of borderline dehydration among firefighters, there were no injuries reported.

Approximately 30 firefighters responded to the call.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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