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Grass fire spreads to Easy Bean farm near Milan, destroys art studio but home saved

MILAN -- Cleanup work is underway today at the Easy Bean Farm east of Milan, where a fast-moving grass fire on Monday destroyed an art studio and its contents, granary with farm equipment, pickup truck and tractor and damaged two greenhouses and other equipment.

The fire also destroyed a vacant home, shed, and numerous, older-model vehicles on an adjoining property.

Rural mail carrier Paul Belseth, Milan's former fire chief, spotted the blaze around 11:15 a.m. and his quick action to summon help is credited with saving the home of Malena Handeen and Mike Jacobs on the Easy Bean farm.

Embers from the fire charred bedding in a child's upstairs bedroom where a window was open, but was extinguished before it spread.

The couple was returning from the Twin Cities in the afternoon when they saw the black smoke and realized their farm place was on fire.

The fire appears to have started in a ditch south of the two properties, and was driven towards them by strong, gusting winds. Milan Fire Chief Ted Ziemann said the cause is still under investigation, but initial suspicion is that a discarded cigarette could have started it.

The Milan, Watson, Appleton and Appleton fire departments battled the blaze and brought it under control after 5 p.m.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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