Fire displaces 2 in adult foster care residence

"When we got here the flames were pouring out of the roof all around the house,” a neighbor said after seeing all the smoke.

Fire fighters from Brainerd and Little Falls battle a house fire near Fort Ripley Thursday, Feb. 27, on Staghorn Drive. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

FORT RIPLEY — Billowing smoke could be seen for miles Thursday, Feb. 27, off Highway 371 between Brainerd and Fort Ripley as firefighters responded to a fire at a house serving as an adult foster care home.

Flames and smoke were through the roof when firefighters arrived at the scene. The fire was reported just before 10 a.m. on the 3200 block of Staghorn Drive, Fort Ripley. The Little Falls Fire Department responded with mutual aid from Brainerd and Camp Ripley fire departments. North Memorial Health Ambulance was on standby.

The house is owned by Artesian Homes, which is a business serving adults in foster care. John Stumpf, the financial controller of Artesian Homes, was on scene and said there were two residents who lived in the home and were cared for by four staff members on a 24-7 basis.

“They saw smoke and got out of the house,” Stumpf said. “It is my understanding that one individual, who was in the upstairs apartment, was on an outing (with two staff members) and the other individuals were in the basement and smelled smoke. They got out and called the necessary authorities immediately. ... They were able to get out of the house with no problems.”

Even though the house fire was 17 miles away from the Little Falls Fire Hall, Fire Chief Mike Nieman said their response time was quick. Firefighters got the trucks lined up and were able to contain the flames to the top level of the home, which was good, Nieman said. The cause of the fire is not known at this time, as firefighters were still on scene and needed time to investigate the fire.


Neighbors from down the road — Corey and Alicia Treb — were on their way to work when they saw the smoke and grew concerned.

“When we got here the flames were pouring out of the roof all around the house,” Alicia Treb said.

“They were just getting the hoses out when we pulled up,” Corey Treb said. “It burned up fast.”

The Trebs said they didn’t know the people well, but offered their help if they needed anything. Stumpf appreciated their offer, but said staff will find temporary housing placements for the people who were displaced.

Artesian Homes is licensed under the Minnesota Department of Human Services. It offers adult foster care services such as household services and living skills assistance or training, its website stated. Foster care services are individualized and based on the needs of the person, as identified in the support plan with may include personal care, homemaking, chore services and companion services.

“Our mission statement is to improve the lives of everyone we meet,” Stumpf said, stating the adult foster care company specializes in helping those with a mental illness or people who are hard to place in facilities because they have difficult behaviors to address. “We provide excellent care to these individuals and provide them with opportunities to improve their life and improve their standing in the community, and hopefully they'll get back to a form of independence that they can be proud of.”

JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.

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