Firefighters needed so much water that a Minnesota town had to go without

HAWLEY, Minn. (AP) — Firefighters needed so much water to battle a huge grain elevator blaze that they had to ask the whole town to go without — even canceling school to conserve the water supply, officials said.

The cause of the fire isn't yet known; a fire marshal began an investigation. It took firefighters responding from 17 communities about eight hours to extinguish the blaze in the town of about 2,200 people, which was reported about 11 p.m. Sunday, said Hawley City Administrator Lonnie Neuner. No injuries were reported.

Firefighters even used water from the local golf course because the town's water tower couldn't keep up, Neuner said. Their ladder hoses each use about 600 gallons a minute, about as much as Hawley's system can pump, Neuner said. He expected the city would allow water usage to resume “pretty soon."

The elevator was fully engulfed and destroyed. Monday morning, a backhoe began tearing down what was left of the structure as firefighters sprayed water on the smoldering remains.

A nearby building caught fire and suffered minor damage from blowing embers, Hawley Police Chief Joe Backlund said.