By Bill Hudson

NEWPORT, Minn. (WCCO) — Evening rush hour was just ramping up along Highway 61 in Newport late Monday afternoon when traffic soon slowed to a crawl, as eyes were drawn to a raging inferno nearby.

“We saw smoke so we decided to come and drive past,” said Abbie Howard.

The swarm of fire trucks hadn’t yet arrived when Howard and her mother pulled into the cul-de-sac on at the end of Hastings Avenue. Howard quickly captured video of the unchallenged flames on her cell phone.

When help arrived from five nearby fire departments, it would take some 50 firefighters several hours to gain the upperhand on the blaze.

“And we saw this building on fire and heard the booms, exploding almost,” Howard added.

That building was Quade Trucking’s service garage. Owner David Quade, who has been in the trucking business since 1967 says that when he left the garage just before 4:00 p.m., he smelled no smoke and nothing was suspicious.

“Somebody went back in about 20 minutes later and noticed that the building was fully involved,” Newport Fire Chief Steve Wiley said.

By daylight, the losses were being totaled. Losses include three semi-tractors, several trailers used for storing tires, a fork lift and thousands of tools.

Quade expects his losses will exceed $1.5 million. Unfortunately, not everything the fire consumed was insured.

Laura Howard returned to the business on Tuesday to survey the damage up close.

“Wow, we didn’t think it was going to be that much damage. We knew it was a big fire but didn’t know it would be that kind of damage,” she said.

Fire investigators say their probe for the cause will take some time. Meanwhile, owner Quade says he’s thankful nobody was hurt in the fire and adds that trucks and trailers can always be replaced.

Bill Hudson

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