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Neighbors see Christmas tree ablaze in Minnesota trailer home, where occupant dies

BARROWS, Minn. -- Trevor Warner and Katie Ruesken watched Monday night as a Christmas tree inside their neighbor's home went up in flames. And it turned out to be a fatal fire. "I pulled my truck up and I blared on the horn and I yelled hello, bu...

Brainerd firefighters battle a house fire on Brandon Way in Barrows Monday night. Neighbors noticed a fire inside the home and called 911. Brainerd and Nisswa fire departments responded to the scene. Steve Kohls/ Brainerd Dispatch Gallery and Video
Brainerd firefighters battle a house fire on Brandon Way in Barrows Monday night. Neighbors noticed a fire inside the home and called 911. Brainerd and Nisswa Fire Departments responded to the scene. Steve Kohls/ Forum News Service

BARROWS, Minn. -- Trevor Warner and Katie Ruesken watched Monday night as a Christmas tree inside their neighbor’s home went up in flames.

And it turned out to be a fatal fire.

“I pulled my truck up and I blared on the horn and I yelled hello, but nobody answered,” Ruesken said.

The Brainerd Fire Department responded to a fully engulfed mobile home fire at 8:11 p.m. Monday on the 5300 block of Brandon Way in Barrows just outside of Brainerd after Warner called 911 to report flames he saw through their window.

Warner said dispatchers asked him and Ruesken to determine whether the fire was in the brush or in a building. When they saw it was their neighbor's home and a vehicle in the driveway, they tried to warn any possible occupants.

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That's when they saw the Christmas tree burning inside the darkened home. Although unsure whether someone was inside, Ruesken said in the month they've lived across the street from the home that burned, they've witnessed their neighbor check the mail about the time they noticed the fire Monday night.

Brainerd Fire Chief Tim Holmes confirmed early Tuesday morning his department, along with the state fire marshal's office and the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office, is investigating a fatality associated with the fire, although details weren't available yet.

More than a dozen firefighters, Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office personnel and North Memorial medical responders were on scene as half of the mobile home caved in under intense heat. In addition to Brainerd's department, the Nisswa Fire Department was called for mutual aid.

Firefighters stood on a charred, smoking deck once attached to the home, dousing the fire as it moved through the building. A detached garage, near the home, did not appear to be damaged by the fire.

With no fire hydrants nearby, a pumper truck filled a temporary pool from which the hoses drew water. A green Jeep was parked in the driveway, although its snow-covered windows indicated it had not moved at least since Friday.

Related Topics: FIRES
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