Firefighters called to local Lakes business
OKOBOJI – The Arnolds Park/Okoboji Fire and Rescue responded to a fire at the Okoboji Expedition Company, a popular bicycle shop owned by Cenna Vaelli at 1021 South Highway 71 in Okoboji at approximately 8:39 p.m. July 28. A citizen called 911 after passing by the business and seeing smoke exiting from the roof area.
Upon arrival of the fire department, moderate smoke was exiting from vents on the roof of the structure. Firefighters made entry into the building and found no fire or smoke condition in the store itself and quickly determined that the fire was in the attic area of the structure.
After locating the fire in the attic area, the fire was quickly extinguished by firefighters and the task of removing the burning insulation began. After insuring all burning materials were removed from the structure, the fire was completely extinguished. The owner was assisted with securing his business. The department was on scene for just over two and a half hours.
An investigation into the cause of the fire was ruled accidental with the area of origin located in an electrical junction box attached to the ceiling rafters in the central area of the business. The cause was determined to be an electrical equipment malfunction in the stores fluorescent lighting.
The Arnolds Park/Okoboji fire department was assisted by the Milford fire department, Okoboji police department, Dickinson County sheriff’s office, Arnolds Park police department and the Lakes Regional Healthcare ambulance.
The business will be able to recover as damage was limited to the roof and a portion of the ceiling where the fire was located. Some smoke damage occurred to some of the merchandise, however no damage was noted to any of the bicycles in the store. Overall damage is estimated in the $35,000-$40,000 range. No injuries to citizens or firefighters occurred.
Fire Chief Chris Yungbluth credits the sharp eyes of the citizen who reported the fire and quick actions of the fire department with saving the business. “If they had not noticed the fire and it was allowed to burn for much longer it could have been a much sadder story for this business.”
Chief Yungbluth also reminds everyone that early warning in a fire is the best way to stay safe, so make sure to test smoke detectors monthly and change batteries twice a year.