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Looking Back - 10 Years Ago, February 3, 2006. Porter
by Don Beman
, The Canby News, February 2006
A chain of events that began last summer led to the saving of
a life and possibly the property of others in Porter early last
Two Canby High School students coming home from a
basketball game saved a man's life and called for help before
gusty winds could fan a smokey fire in a truck repair shop into
open flames and blowing embers, the Porter fire chief said.
It was not only a chain of events - things like taking a
different route home - but common sense that makes the story a
good one, especially for the life that was in jeopardy when
junior Kyle Kack and senior Jesse Schlecht discovered the fire.
"I don't think he could have survived more than a minute
or two longer," said Chief Patrick Vlaminck, referring to Dave
Prellwitz. "Also, if we hadn't gotten the alarm and been here
before the building was fully engulfed, it could have spread to
a couple houses across the street."
Firefighters from Canby and St. Leo were also called in.
They poured water on the structure and kept track of burning
embers that were being blown across the street toward some trees
next to two houses. The other two departments weren't released
until about 4:30 a.m. Porter firemen stayed on into the day in
case it flared up again.
The fire call came from Kack as Schlecht was helping
Prellwitz the rest of the way to safety. Vlaminck said Prellwitz
was disoriented and suffered smoke inhalation and burns on his
The chief said the cause was apparently a wood burning
stove in the shop owned by Raymond Petersen, who was out of the
state on vacation.
Schlecht said the two came through Porter shortly after
midnight on their way home from a girls basketball game at
Kerkhoven and saw smoke.
"The whole town was filled with smoke. From where the
smoke was coming from we thought it might be Petersen's shop,"
said Kack. "We swung over there and checked it out."
He said they yelled to see if anyone was inside.
"We heard somebody yell back 'I'm in here'," said
Schlecht. "I asked if it was Dave and he said it was. Dave was
kind of watching over the place while Raymond was out of town."
Schlecht said they told Prellwitz to get out and he said
he couldn't see.
"The smoke was really thick," Kack said.
"We could barely see him in the smoke (against the flames
on the other side of him) just standing there and he wouldn't
move," Kack said. "We yelled at him to get down on the floor."
"He was just standing up," Schlecht said.
Kack said they kept yelling and told Prellwitz to follow
their voices and finally he began to crawl.
"We saw him and went and grabbed him when he got close
enough," Kack said. As Prellwitz made it the rest of the way to
safety, Kack called 911 for help and the Porter Fire Department
was on its way. Vlaminck said the call came about 20 minutes
after midnight. He called for help from the other departments
after he saw the fire and realized what could happen.
Prellwitz was in Kack's pickup when firemen and Porter
First Responders arrived.
"His whole face was all black and
it looked like his legs were burned," Schlecht said.
asked if anyone else was in there and he said 'Moose'," Kack
said, referring to Petersen's dog. "We couldn't get him."
Prellwitz told firemen he got out, but had gone back in
to get the dog. He couldn't find him and discovered he could not
see to get back out.
When Canby firemen arrived, Porter firemen were already
in place. The fire was still inside and smoke poured from the
building. Finally, flames broke through on the west and north
sides. A semi rig parked next to the building had to be moved
out of the way and Otter Tail had to cut power so the firemen
could get into better positions.
The two boys said they didn't try to go inside the
building because they had been around the shop and knew there
were combustible materials, like welding tanks and solvents,
that could explode.
"I was thinking about those welding
tanks," said Kack.
The two recalled the early morning events as they sat in
Principal Robert Slaba's office at
High School later Friday
"I just think you were somehow meant to be there," said
Slaba, after he learned the reason the two had gone to an out of
town game on a school night knowing it would be late when they
"I met these girls at the National Catholic Youth
Conference in Atlanta (Ga.)
last summer and I had told them we'd be at the game," Kack said.
"We stopped and talked to them for a while after the game."
The two said the other thing that happened was they chose
a slightly different road to come home on, a gravel road, that
seemed like it might be a little quicker late at night, which
brought them into Porter.
Vlaminck said Prellwitz was taken to the Canby hospital
and later was transferred to
to a burn unit at Avera. The chief said the burns were not as
serious as they could have been. He said the immediate problem
when the boys arrived was that Prellwitz was running out of
"They showed some really good common sense in how they
helped him," the chief said, explaining that it could have been
a fatal mistake for them to try to go inside the burning
building because they would have found themselves surrounded by
smoke and unable to find a way out.
Date Set for Annual Porter Market Day Sale Auction
The Annual Porter Market Day Sale will be held on April 16,
Porter Elevator Bankruptcy - Grain Owners Will be
Contacted by January 13
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently
in the process of validating grain inventories at the Porter
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) moved in and assumed control
of the grain on December 14. This week, a notice from Carie
Pintado of the USDA indicated, "Depositors will be contacted by
USDA FSA representatives by the close of business on January 13,
2016 to set up an appointment to verify the depositors warehouse
receipts, open storage, and grain bank account or accounts."
The notice from Pintado indicated, "if you are not contacted by
the close of business on January 13, 2016, and have ownership of
grain that was deposited and currently hin storage at Porter
Elevator, Inc., the depositors are to contact the USDA FSA as
soon as possible."
Contact the USDA FSA's Warehouse License and Examination
Division, Licensing Branch in Kansas City, Missouri. The
telephone number is: (816) 926-6474 or fax at (844) 930-0174.
Make contact no later than the close of business on January 15,
2016. USDA FSA representatives are validating produce accounts
by appointment only.
Porter Jail Featured in October 1 Minneota Mascot
The historic Porter Jail is featured this week in the Minneota
Mascot. The article includes interviews with lifelong Porter
resident Mavis Anderson as well as Porter native John Bruns who
was involved in the restoration of the historic site in 1993.
Copies of the Mascot are available weekly at the Porter Cafe.
Consumer Confidence Report Released
The 2015 Porter City Water System Consumer Confidence Report has
been published. To view the report click on "City Government"
under the Explore Porter heading and then click on the "City
Interested in a Book Exchange?
With the closure of
the Porter Senior Citizens Building, the Porter Book Exchange
program has lost its home. Citizens of Porter interested in
setting up a new book exchange program are encouraged to contact
a member of the city council or email
to share your
interest and any ideas you might have for how the book exchange
could be operated.
Porter Community Hall Shadow Boxes Complete
New shadow boxes have been built in the Porter Community Hall
and will be used to display memorabilia from Porter's past. If you
have any items you wish to donate to the city to have displayed,
please contact any city council member. Original or high-quality
newspaper articles will be accepted.
Porter Community Hall Information
Check out the new area of our website with information about the
Porter Community Hall.
Porter Event Photos
Do you have photos of Harvest
Festival, the Porter Auction or other events? Email them to
caption descriptions and they will get posted to the Porter
Keeping The Community Informed Has Never Been Easier
Now it is even easier to pass the
word about events in Porter and the surrounding area. Simply
fill out the information form at the bottom of the all new
Community Events and Calendar
Page and submit your event. Your submission will be validated
and posted to the calendar promptly!
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