House fires force residents out for holidays

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Three separate households in the Pequot Lakes/Breezy Point areas were forced to find other living arrangements for the holidays after fires damaged or destroyed their homes.

The Pequot Lakes Fire Department responded to all three fires reported at 8 p.m. Dec. 22 on the 7100 block of 17th Avenue Southwest in Loon Lake Township, west of Pequot Lakes; 2:48 p.m. Friday on the 31000 block of Robinhood Lane, northwest of Breezy Point; and 2:07 a.m. Sunday on the 9500 block of Crow Wing County Highway 11 in Breezy Point.

Pequot Lakes Fire Chief Tom Nelson said a house and a detached garage, owned by Jason Raasch, was destroyed by fire Dec. 22, before Christmas Day. Nelson said Raasch had just left for the holidays and was gone when the house burned. Nelson said a neighbor saw flames and called 911. By the time firefighters arrived on scene, the structures were already burned down. Nelson said the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but an outdoor wood stove may have been the culprit.

The Nisswa and Pine River fire departments assisted in extinguishing the fire and the Cass County Sheriff's Office was on scene. About 30 firefighters responded and cleared the scene about midnight.

Friday's fire on Robinhood Lane was a rental property. Nelson said the top half of the single family dwelling was destroyed and the bottom half had water damage. The residence was constructed into a duplex.

Nelson said Scott Quick was renting the upstairs of the dwelling. The American Red Cross was called to assist Quick and the other renter as they could not live at the residence. Firefighters were able to save a cat.

Nelson said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

There were about 35 firefighters on scene. Pequot Lakes was assisted by Ideal, Nisswa and Crosslake fire departments and the Breezy Point Police Department.

Firefighters not only had to battle a house fire Sunday, but had to fight in temperatures of 26 below zero. A Breezy Point police officer was on routine patrol when he located the fire on the 9500 block of County Highway 11 in Breezy Point. The officer removed two people from the house and they went to a family member's residence.

The homeowners are William and Cynthia Rasmussen.

Nelson said the fire was in the roof when firefighters arrived, near the side where the wood stove was located, which may have started the fire. Nelson said since the fire was mainly in the roof, the smoke detectors never went off.

"The main house had no smoke (in the beginning)," he said. "They were able to get the owners out of the house and save seven birds."

Pequot Lakes called Ideal, Nisswa and Mission fire departments for mutual aid. The Crosslake and Breezy Point police departments and Minnesota State Patrol also responded to the call.

Nelson said the home was not a total loss, but had a lot of smoke damage by the time all was said and done.

Nelson said the below-zero temperatures make it more difficult to fight fires, but they were lucky and all the equipment worked and they had no issues.