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Family escapes fire Sunday night at their Baxter home

Brainerd firefighters responded to a Sunday night fire that forced Paul Bartholo

BAXTER — Paul Bartholomaus’ quiet Sunday night of watching football with his family took a dramatic turn when fire alarms alerted him to a fire in the upstairs master bedroom.

The Baxter man, who has rented his home at 13920 Grand Oak Drive since July, said they thought the alarms were carbon dioxide detectors but when a fire was discovered in the master bedroom his wife and two younger children fled their home while Bartholomaus and his 16-year-old son briefly attempted to fight the blaze with a fire extinguisher. They soon realized their efforts were not going to be successful, he said and they left the split entry home as smoke began to fill the home.

The fire was reported to Brainerd Fire Department at 8:53 p.m. Sunday.

At home when the blaze was discovered was Bartholomaus, his wife, Tracy, and three of the four children in house. A fourth child was not at home. Ages of the children at home were 16, 4 and 3.

Bartholomaus said none of the family members were injured. He and his 16-year-old son were given some oxygen by emergency personnel.

“We were just munching on some chips and watching the football game,” Bartholomaus said.

The father said everyone was in the living room, except his oldest son who was watching television in a different room. Bartholomaus wanted to make sure his wife and children made it out safely and he didn’t grab any other possessions as he left.

“Our little dog made it out,” he said.

Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

The fire appeared to be largely contained to the second floor bedroom.

Bartholomaus said he had no idea what started the blaze. He said there were no candles burning in the bedroom.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at or 855-5860.