Cook Fire Department

e-mail to Don Simonson 

Fire fighters

Fire Chief

Pete Johnson


Assistant Chief

Brian Gramling


Current Firefighters  



Will Fisher

Sam Grahn

Brian Gramling

Tim Mankowski

Tom Musech

Troy Simpson

Jon Pylka

Dan Reing

Ross Gramling

Pete Niska

Jesse Scofield

Shane Johnson


Past Fire Chiefs


Wayne Stenbeck, 68,1979, appointed Fire Chief by the Cook Village Council for 1937.

Reynold "Ray" Gustason, 82,1988, joined the Cook Fire Department in 1940. After the terrible fire that took the lives of Herman Kjellberg's wife and three sons on 20 May 1945, Ray was named the Chief on August 6, 1945 and told to reorganize the department. Ray was also an employee of the City of Cook. He was in charge of the water and sewer plants, street maintenance winter and summer.Edren Hyppa was the Assistant Chief some time later.

Edren Hyppa, 93.1999, was named the Fire Chief after Ray Gustason retired. He had joined the department in 1950.  Ed was the manager of  the Pajari Maytag store which is now the Montana Cafe. Ed was the agent for the Mutual Service Insurance.

Richard Fox, owner of Fox Hardware.
   John Musech, Assistant Chief

John Musech, owner of the Big Dollar Store
  Don Simonson, Assistant Chief

Don Simonson, owner of Simonson Chevrolet-Olds, Inc. 
   Frank Hyppa, Assistant Chief, Mining Engineer at Mintac

Dennis Rinne 72, 2010, employed at Mintac.
    Frank Hyppa, Assistant Chief

Arne Johnson, retired employee of the DWP railroad section crew.
    Frank Hyppa, Assistant Chief, retired June 1999
    Tim Picek, Assistant Chief, owner of Secure Vault and Luxury Limousine Service




Retired Firefighters




Tom Bakk

Don Baumgartner

  Willis Beatty


 Jim Boutto


Clayton Carlson

 Jake Cayo

   Pat Clune

   Paul Fallos


 Bill Fischer


 Duane Fitzimmons


Richard  Fox, Chief

Knute Fuller

Joe Germ

  David Grebenc

Kenneth Gustason


Ray Gustason, Chief

  Gust Gustafson,
    John K.Gustafson

   Aaron Hall

Clyde Hendy


Matt Hoffmann


Edren  Hyppa, Chief

    Frank Hyppa, Assistant Chief 


Sev Karni

Walfred Kehus


  Charles "Chuck" Knapp

 Kenneth Leding


 John Lindberg

Pastor Dennis Morriem

John Musech, Chief

  Douglas Nakari

 Wayne Nelmark, Chief

  Mike Popelka


  Kirsten Reichel


Dennis Rinne, Chief
 Ray Ronning


  Henry Saari

 Wayne Stenbeck, Chief

  Don Simonson, Chief

   Ray Wilkinson


Fire Halls


1946, one of the first places the fire fighting equipment was stored was in a small garage behind the old Anderson Store. This building belonged to Axel Lofgren. It was owned by Mike Picek and was last used as his Rental business.  This garage sat right up to the sidewalk, it would now be in the front of the telephone office garage.  


1948, a new City Hall and Library with three stalls for the Fire Department was constructed. The library is now in the three stalls.


1992, 16 October the present Fire Hall was opened.


Notable Fires

  1945, Sunday 11 a.m., 20 May.  Herman Kjellberg's home.  Herman's wife  and three sons perished.  The fire started in the garage below the upstairs living area. Herman yelled for his wife to get the children out. For some reason she was not able to do so. Only one child, a five year old daughter survived as a ladder was put to the window and she was removed to safety.  Herman also survived and lived until 1965.  This building was located across the street from where the Lion's Club storage building is now. The daughter, Kathleen (Bob) Karklin now lives in Cook.

1959, 08 January.  Walter Miller's Food Liner Grocery store was destroyed. The fire started in the basement of  this six year old cement block building.  This building is now the Gustafson Ford Agency.

1977, 10 May.  Johnson's One Stop. This was a large marina business owned by Marshall & Roy Johnson.  The fire started in the office/showroom and burned very fast.  This site is now the Country Store owned by Tom Musech and the Vermilion Motel owned by John & Verdella Musech.

1977, 12 May. Idington Town Hall.  This old town hall located 8.9 miles south of Cook on Hwy 53 at the intersection with the Hannula Road was torched. The building was used for community meetings, etc.

1978, 08 May. BIC building. A real estate business owned by Lloyd Beurline.The building was rebuilt with-out the second story, it was constructed in 1940 as the Mecca Inn.

1979, 20 January. Ardin's Hotel / Denny's Cafe.  Dennis Duame owned this  historic hotel and newer cafe addition. The fire started in the upstairs of the rear stairway of the hotel. The alarm was turned in at 6 a.m.  In those days a fire was reported by phone to the hospital and they sounded the alarm by holding the button down for  seven seconds, off for another seven and repeated it until a firefighter picked up the phone in the Fire Hall.  A problem this time, the alarm wire to activate the siren to the hospital burned off being the siren sat atop this building.  The Department had just received pagers but an emergency kept the nurses at the hospital from activating them. Someone ran to the fire hall to push the button manually

1980, 27 January.  A mobile home fire on the old Joe Aune property at the  intersection of Hwy 1 & 73 took the lives of Howard Lindsay born in 1903 and Shirley Wells born in 1921. The fire started in the add-on entry where a wood burning stove must have overheated. The back door was blocked by hay bales which outlined the entire trailer.

1980, 09 February. The historic Musakka log house was totally destroyed by an arsonist. This four room log structure was considered one of the best examples of Finish architecture in Northern Minnesota. It was built in 1912 of hand-hewn logs. It was located 10 miles south of Cook on Highway 53.

1980, 24 February. Cook High School.  Fire started in the stage area of the new gym. Mostly smoke damage but the firefighters had a problem finding the source of the fire as the smoke was so thick. The alarm was turned in at 1 p.m. this Sunday afternoon.

1989, 28 September. Vos Resort lodge, a fire completely destroyed this large 75-year old landmark located on the west end of Lake Vermilion. Cook firefighters came quickly but were unable to save the lodge. The old wooden structure burned rapidly as well as several trees and a warehouse nearby. The owners were Don & Marcia Price. Several fire fighters stayed on guard throughout the early morning and the two cabins on each side of the lodge  were spared.

1994, 04 October. Northern Farmers Co-op store. This vacant store with the  active Credit Union in the front area burned with-in four hours.. The alarm was  turned in 640 a.m.  There was no stopping this one.  The present Cook Area  Credit Union is on this site.

2000, 22 January. Amundson Apartment Building / old Heiam Hospital. This building was one of the oldest in Cook. It dates back to about 1913-1914.  It began life as a boarding house. Goldie Mihm remembers her sister living there in 1915. Doctor Heiam came to Cook in 1928,  he soon established the Cook General Hospital which operated until the new Cook Community opened on the 26th of October 1959.  It was then the office of Doctor Heiam Clinic.  It  was later the office of Attorney  Howard Seigel.  It has been an apartment complex now since about 1978.  Joe & Valerie Amundson had bought the building in 1990.

2000, 07 September, the Country Supper Club. This was an old building with many additions. The original building was constructed of standing logs. This place was built by Harry Thomas in 1936.  There were a number of owners over the years.  Gary Albertson  was the current owner.

2003, 10 February, the Clark's IGA grocery store. An early morning fire on this cold day destroyed the 32 year old steel building. This was the last grocery store in the downtown area of Cook, there had been one downtown for almost 100 years. Clark & Barb Brenna were the owners. There had been a grocery store at this location since about 1914 when August Buboltz opened a General Store. He sold to Bill Ongalo and Elmer Waataja in 1937. Elmer and Rick Waataja bought the business in 1942 and they sold to Bob Ranta 1953. Ranta sold to  John Musech in 1958. John had the new building constructed in 1970 and sold to Clark Brenna in 1983.

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