CALEDONIA — A house burned down on Saturday. That was the plan all along.
The Caledonia Fire Department hosted a controlled burn training session on Saturday at a vacant home immediately east of Gifford Elementary School on Northwestern Avenue.
A few parts of the home remain — mainly the brick corners, foundation, basement and chimney — but most of it is now gone.
“This is the most realistic training we can get,” Battalion Chief Tim St. Amand told The Journal Times. “We do everything that a real structure fire would involve.”
The fire was ignited using shredded cardboard and pallets, donated from a local business, and lit by a propane torch, St. Amand said.
The property is owned by the Racine Unified School District. The district does not have a plan for the five acres the home sat on.
“We continue to explore the best use of that property and do not have any set plans at this time,” Emily Neubauer, a spokeswoman for RUSD, told The Journal Times in an email.
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St. Amand said he believes the home was built in the 1970s. He noted that all the asbestos in the home was removed before the fire was lit, neighbors were notified about what would be going on, and that the burn was compliant with Department of Natural Resources regulations.
Also participating in the training were firefighters from South Shore, Raymond, Kansasville and Racine.
Although flying drones over active fires is not usually allowed, a Caledonia firefighter was permitted to fly his personal drone high over the home, capturing the blaze on video as the structure collapsed.
When the video was shared on Facebook, the Caledonia Fire Department wrote: “Please feel free to share how you like. Enjoy! It’s better than sitting in traffic looking at all the orange cones!!”
The description of the video included a reminder for civilians to not fly drones near fires and other emergency scenes.