Two homes in the town of Plum Lake were destroyed by fire last weekend, with one life likely saved due to a smoke detector, according to a fire department official.

A fire Saturday afternoon severely damaged the home of Chuck and Nancy McGee at 2858 Woodstock Trail, and a blaze early Monday morning devastated the home of Nathan Long at 9309 Highway N West.

Plum Lake Fire Chief Kevin Rasmussen said his squad averages one major structure fire every five years, so to have two in one weekend was unusual.

The Plum Lake Fire Department received the page for the McGee house fire at 4:23 p.m. Saturday.

“The homeowner got home and saw smoke coming out of the eaves in the (attached) garage and his wife called 911 while he entered the basement for some personal belongings,” said Rasmussen. “He got some guns out, but I believe the house is a total loss.”

Rasmussen said when the Plum Lake Fire Department arrived, the fire was fully through the roof, with the fire aided by a strong wind.

“We got a full mutual aid response from the St. Germain, Boulder Junction and Arbor Vitae fire departments and a tanker from Conover and tanker from Eagle River,” said Rasmussen. “We had some problem getting apparatuses in there due to the remoteness of the home and the length of the driveway.”

Rasmussen said his department left the scene at 9:30 p.m. and was back at the home on Sunday to tend some fire hot spots in the basement.

Less than 30 hours later, the Plum Lake Fire Department was paged out again, this time at 1:48 a.m. Monday for a fire at the Long home at 9309 Highway N West.

“When I first heard the page, I figured it was for another hot spot at the McGee house, but they went on to say the address and that the caller stated the house was full of smoke,” said Rasmussen. “I went direct and by the time I got there the house was fully involved, with the fire already coming out the back of the house and roof.”

Plum Lake again received mutual aid from St. Germain, Boulder Junction and Arbor Vitae with personnel and water.

“The big thing in this fire is that a smoke detector woke the resident (Long),” said Rasmussen. “He said he never had smoke detectors for 30 years and installed one a few weeks ago. It saved his life. He heard the noise and woke to a cloud of smoke. He thought the smoke would wake him, but that is not the case.”

Long was also able to get his dog and cat out of the house, but Rasmussen said the house is likely a total loss. The Plum Lake Department was on the scene until 4:52 a.m.

Rasmussen said both fires remain under investigation.

“We’re tired,” Rasmussen said about his volunteer firefighters. “But I want to thank the other departments for their work. We have a small department and I just want to stress how well mutual aid works in Vilas County. To help out our department with personnel, equipment and water is huge. I just want to thank everyone for their teamwork.”