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Family loses their business and home to fire

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Krissy and Tom Andrew of rural Brainerd feel blessed that their two young girls — ages 3 and 2 – are OK, but they’re still in shock with Monday night’s tragic fire.

Fire destroyed the Andrews’ business Northridge Construction and Woodworking shop and their home which was attached to the cabinet shop.

The family was sleeping when the fire broke out.

“I fell asleep on the couch and it woke me up,” Krissy Andrew said Tuesday morning in a telephone interview. “At first I thought someone broke into our shop and I woke my husband up to check it out. He heard some noises too ... He saw smoke and realized our shop was on fire.”

They got the girls out of the house and called for help.

The Brainerd Fire Department was paged at 10:22 p.m. to the cabinet shop, 4153 80th St., located south of Brainerd near Crow Wing State Park.

“It was fully engulfed when we got out there,” said Brainerd Fire Capt. Kevin Tengwall. “We tried to keep the fire away from the house to save it, but it reached the wall between the shop and the house ... We couldn’t stop it.

“We went into a defensive mode (fighting the fire from the outside) when we got on scene. The roof collapsed and we didn’t take any chances.”

Nearly 30 firefighters from Brainerd, Nisswa and Ironton battled the fire in the frigid temperatures. According to the National Weather Service, the temperature was 5 degrees, with a 10 mph gusty wind.

“It was cold and we tried to keep warm,” said Tengwall. “We didn’t have any freezing issues with the hoses, just our bodies.”

Krissy Andrew said it was so cold outside and she didn’t have any shoes on and the children were only in their pajamas.

When firefighters knew they were unable to save the house, they grabbed a few personal items out of the house for the Andrew family. Krissy Andrew said some photographs, their Bibles and a few pairs of pants were saved.

Andrew said a lot of their personal items were in a storage area in the cabinet shop, such as the children’s bikes, toys and other items that were all lost in the fire.

“It was terrible, it was so cold out and we live pretty far out so it took them a long time to get here,” said Andrew. “Watching the house burn was horrible.”

Tengwall said once the call was reported, the fire department was on scene within 12 minutes, which is a good response time. The cabinet shop is located about 10 miles away from the Brainerd Fire Hall.

“Everyone worked well together as a team extinguishing the fire,” Tengwall said. “The shop was full of wood, tools, supplies, stains and varnishes so it went up real quick and new construction burns faster.”

Tengwall said they used a lot of water to fight the fire. The department’s water supply located off Crow Wing County Road 48 is about six miles away from the cabinet shop. About 50,000 gallons of water was used to fight the fire. Brainerd had three tankers, an engine and a ladder truck; Ironton brought its super tanker truck that holds 5,000 gallons; and Nisswa brought an engine and a tanker truck.

Firefighters contained the fire at 11:56 p.m. Monday and cleared the scene at 1:54 a.m. Tuesday. Firefighters responded back to the cabinet shop at 3:50 a.m. Tuesday because a pile of debris outside the shop rekindled. Firefighters were then on scene for another four hours.

Tengwall said the cause of the fire has not been determined and the State Fire Marshal has been called to investigate.

Andrew said she and Tom were born and raised in Brainerd so they are able to stay with family until they can rebuild their home.

The American Red Cross also is helping the family with household items and money to purchase winter coats and other necessities.

“We will rebuild our cabinet shop, but we won’t attach the home this time,” said Andrew.

The Andrews have been in business for three years and their home was built about 2 1/2 years ago. The business deals with new construction, remodeling and roofing and also does custom cabinetry which deals with cabinetry, countertops, millwork and moldings.

“We have done very well building up our business and we are so busy right now,” Andrew said as they were working on several cabinet projects prior to the fire.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at