Train hits sedan west of Perham

Two business fires and one apartment fire keep Perham Fire Department busy over holiday weekend.

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The car and train collision occurred west of Perham, at the intersection of U.S. Highway 10 and 495th Street.
Contributed / Perham Fire Department
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PERHAM — A car was struck by a train on Monday, Dec. 27 around 11:30 p.m., and there were two business fires and one apartment fire over the holiday weekend in Perham.

Perham Fire Department Chief Mark Schmidt reported the damage in all instances was limited to objects.

The car and train collision occurred west of Perham, at the intersection of U.S. Highway 10 and 495th Street. Schmidt said he wasn’t certain of the details, but heard the car malfunctioned on the tracks. The driver exited the sedan when the train was approaching. More information was requested from the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota State Patrol, but there was no response by deadline.

Schmidt added prior to the call regarding the train, the fire department responded to a car rollover on Highway 10. He said the driver exited the car upon arrival.

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The first of three fires in Perham began Thursday, Dec. 22 at Industrial Finishing Services, 701 First St. NE.
Contributed / Perham Fire Department

On the smoky end of calls, the busy weekend began on Thursday, Dec. 22 with a fire at Industrial Finishing Services, 701 First St. NE. Schmidt said the fire was started by a filter in a large drying system.


“We were able to quickly put it out,” he said, noting there were no injuries.

On Friday, Dec. 23, an apartment building fire at 902 Eighth St. SW was reported. Apartment residents had to evacuate the building into the cold and wind, Schmidt said. Firefighters found a stove had caught on fire and the crew was able to extinguish the fire with minimal damage caused.

Schmidt said the residents were back in the building within an hour.

There was also a fire at Sota Lake Property, 318 W Main St. Schmidt said a maintenance person called in because the building was filling up with smoke.

“When we got there it was full of smoke,” Schmidt said, noting the fire started in a dryer.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire. While the interior was likely damaged by smoke and water, the structure remained standing.

“We had a good response for Christmas morning,” Schmidt said. “The crew did excellent work, along with the responding departments (from the towns of Vergas and New York Mills).”

While the fires that happened over the holiday weekend may not have been preventable, having a smoke detector likely prevented further damage or injuries. Schmidt noted each location had working smoke detectors which alerted people to the emergency. He emphasized the importance of testing the smoke detectors in residences and businesses.


The Perham Fire Department has 30 volunteer firefighters, with six openings on its roster. For those interested in joining the crew, stop by Perham City Hall (125 Second Ave. NE).

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