Explosion, fire destroys home in Cedar Lake Twp.

A narrow driveway meant firefighters had trouble reaching the home of David and Ellen Mathison on Balsa Circle. An explosion and fire destroyed the home, located in Cedar Lake Tonwship, about 10 miles northeast of New Prague Wednesday, Jan. 23. (Chuck Kajer Photo)

The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of an apparent explosion and subsequent fire that destroyed a Cedar Lake Township home Wednesday, Jan. 23.

The New Prague Fire Department was called to a home owned by David and Ellen Mathison at 22633 Balsa Circle, about 10 miles northeast of New Prague, after neighbors called 911 and reported hearing an explosion. Within a few minutes of the initial call, additional reports of an explosion and fire were received, and the Jordan, Prior Lake and Elko New Market fire departments were called in on mutual aid. When firefighters arrived they found the house to be badly damaged and fully engulfed in flames. The home was at the end of a narrow, windy road, nearly half-a-mile long, and was surrounded by trees, making it difficult for firefighters to access the site. Some firefighters had to park their trucks on the road and walk more than a half-a-mile to the home in the sub-zero temperatures to fight the fire.

Black smoke rising from the fire could be seen from several miles away.

New Prague fire chief Jerry Novak said no one was home at the time of the fire. In addition to the three departments providing equipment and manpower, the Mdewakanton Fire Department provided use of its rehab trailer for firefighters.

Novak said the house and most of its contents were destroyed. Firefighters remained on the scene for about five hours, finally clearing about 9:30 p.m.

Novak said there was some concern about the family dog, a German Shepherd, but that the dog had safely escaped from the home.