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Bob Lind, Published February 28 2012

Lind: Fiery memories of a long-ago date night

It’s a good thing a girl coming home from a date spotted the fire. Otherwise, much of the business district of Georgetown, Minn., might have been destroyed.

This Clay County community publishes local news, past and present, in its Georgetown Gazette.

Some time ago, the Gazette’s Carrie Sweeney wrote of Freda Kyllo’s memory of the fire that destroyed the Georgetown Farmer’s Elevator June 2, 1966. Freda’s husband, Harold, was the elevator’s manager at the time.

Here’s what Freda told Carrie about that night.

Susan Kjonaas and her date were driving home when Susan saw flames coming from the elevator.

The town had no alarm system, so all they could do was drive around town honking their car horn to alert people.

Harold and Freda were in bed when the honking woke them up.

Harold ran to the elevator, but as he ran out the door, he told Freda to call the Moorhead Fire Department.

She did, but was told that the department wouldn’t come out until it talked to Harold. “He can’t talk! He’s fighting the fire!” she said.

That did it. Firetrucks soon arrived, but the firemen found the fire was out of control. They hooked up hoses and got water from the river, but to no avail. The elevator burned down.

So the firemen turned their attention to saving the downtown businesses.

One of the stores in danger was Randa’s Restaurant and General Store, owned by Sigrid and Freda Randa. But Sigrid refused to leave, so the firemen kept pouring water on the building’s outside walls and saved it.

Other businesses surviving the fire were Al Ostby’s hardware store, the post office, a general store owned by Randolph Weum, Bergen’s Bar owned by Clint Bergen and Aggie’s Bar owned by Aggie Helmeke.

Harold Kyllo died in 1970. In 1971, Freda moved to Moorhead where she, now in her 90s, lives at the Fairmont.

And she had one more story to tell Carrie.

It was of the day about two years after the elevator fire that she and Harold were driving down Georgetown’s Main Street and Freda saw a fire in Bergen’s Bar.

Yes, that building burned down, too.

Freda probably has had enough of fires.


If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com