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Fast-moving fire damages 121-year-old church, two homes in Howard Lake

The fire is believed to have started in a garage, and then jumped to the two homes and historic St. James Lutheran Church in an instant.

HOWARD LAKE, Minn. — A team of volunteer firefighters worked to extinguish a blaze that had affected a garage, two houses and a church in Howard Lake. 

"We're just happy that all four buildings are still standing and nobody got hurt," said Chief Keith Bobrowske.

The fire team initially responded to a report of a fire at a detached garage, which had eventually spread over to two houses and St. James Lutheran Church.

The chief said he believes embers from one of the house fires were carried by the wind to the church's steeple.

Video obtained by SKY 11 shows firefighters working on the blaze at the top of the steeple of the church. A wider look shows trees above the roofline of the homes blackened. 

The church was constructed in 1902. 

Bobrowske said volunteer firefighters from neighboring towns quickly arrived to help his team extinguish the fire.

"We have a great relationship with all the surrounding towns, which helps out immensely, so we just started calling for mutual aid and getting more trucks, more manpower, and more water coming," said the chief.

The church is believed to have only sustained water damage, according to the chief. 

Bobrowske said mutual aid from other departments was essential because a crew was needed to respond to each structure that had caught fire. 

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