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Looking Back - 10 Years Ago, February 3, 2006. Porter Heros.

Porter Trucking Fire

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 Friday morning.

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 legs.

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.
"We 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 Canby High School later Friday morning.

"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 got home.

"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 Sioux Falls 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 oxygen.

"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, 2016.



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 Elevator.


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 Reports" link.



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 josh@portermn.org 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. www.portermn.org/porterhall



Porter Event Photos

Do you have photos of Harvest Festival, the Porter Auction or other events? Email them to josh@portermn.org with caption descriptions and they will get posted to the Porter Website!



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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