RED WING — When the alarms went off at the Prairie Island Ice Arena on Sept. 4, Alan Gaylor ran to the mechanical room.
Gaylor opened the door and couldn’t see anything except black smoke that filled the room.
A small motor fire from that day will set the district’s hockey practice schedule back a few weeks while contractors work to repair the damage.
Kevin Johnson, the district’s director of buildings, grounds and technology, said the fire was caused by a bearing that was going bad, becoming hot, then setting the foam on fire. The fire spread to insulation and the receiver after that. Thankfully the sprinkler system turned on, containing the fire and stopping it’s spread.
The fire didn’t affect the roof or other parts of the building, aside from cleaning. Johnson said they’ve had to clean every part of the building, finding soot by the entrances on the other side of the building.
While it was a small motor that caught on fire, it’s effects are quite substantial.
“Basically every piece of the system has to be checked or inspected because the motors were running when the fire [occurred],” Johnson said. Wiring also had to be replaced in the room as well after finding wires melted to a conduit.
The Red Wing Fire Department made it to the arena in under three minutes, something Johnson and Gaylor complimented them on.
Johnson, Gaylor and the staff have looked over every minute detail to make sure everything is up to code.
Gaylor, the arena’s manager, was on his first day back from vacation when the fire occurred. Usually they turn the system on in the first week of September so they can slowly cool the floor. They don’t put ice in until a few weeks later.
The first practices for the Red Wing hockey teams are next week. Gaylor said the teams will practice in Rochester for a week, then Hastings, then hopefully in Prairie Island Ice Arena.
The goal is Nov. 11, but it’s not a for sure thing. They’re working with multiple contractors to make sure the work is done effectively and efficiently.
Johnson said he’s stressed the importance of having the work done in a timely manner. Johnson and Gaylor said they want kids and community members to be on the ice just as badly as anyone. Thus far, Johnson said everyone has been understanding about the complicated timetable.
Johnson and Gaylor thanked the patience from the Red Wing Amateur Hockey Association, Red Wing Figure Skating club, men’s leagues, community recreation and district hockey teams.