Weather Forecast


Firefighters battle Baxter house fire in brutal cold

Firefighters from three departments battled a garage/house fire Wednesday overnight on Welton Road in Baxter in arctic temperatures — with wind chills of 33 below zero.

The two-story garage which was attached to a tri-level home was totally engulfed in smoke and flames when firefighters arrived, Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek said. The fire was making its way into the home, but firefighters were able to salvage some of the home from being completely destroyed.

Stunek said the home was heavily damaged, but couldn’t say what the estimated cost of the damage was to the home. The garage had an upstairs living area that also was lost to the fire.

The structure fire was reported just after 11 p.m. Wednesday at the home of Ronald and Jennifer Kiffmeyer, 15367 Welton Road, Baxter. Stunek said smoke detectors woke Jennifer Kiffmeyer, who was the lone occupant of the home. She was able to escape the home without any injuries.

According to the police scanner, a door of the Kiffmeyer home was left open for the cat to escape.

The Nisswa and Crosby fire departments assisted Brainerd with the fire. Due to the extreme cold weather conditions, fire crews took turns fighting the fire.

“The temperatures were brutal and things were freezing up, but this is what you face fighting fire in these conditions,” said Stunek. “Everything is against you, but water was not an issue and I commend the guys on their work for extinguishing the fire.”

Firefighters got water from a hydrant at the intersection of Clearwater Road and Northwoods Drive.

Firefighters were on the scene throughout the night until 11 a.m. Thursday.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

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

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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