Fire forces evacuation of assisted living residents- blaze contained; no injuries reported
PEQUOT LAKES--More than 30 residents of a Pequot Lakes assisted living facility were evacuated Thursday night as firefighters worked to extinguish a fire inside.
PEQUOT LAKES-More than 30 residents of a Pequot Lakes assisted living facility were evacuated Thursday night as firefighters worked to extinguish a fire inside.
Staff reported the blaze at 7:40 p.m. Thursday in the Lower Lodge residence at Heritage House of Pequot Lakes, 5384 Country Care Lane. Despite a hectic scene of people in nursing scrubs, elderly residents with walkers and wheelchairs and emergency responders of all stripes, everyone was reported safe as the fire was quickly contained.
Firefighters from Pequot Lakes, Nisswa, Ideal Township and Pine River were called to the fire. Within a half-hour the fire was reported knocked down, crews were working to ventilate the building and firefighters en route to the scene were canceled.
Pequot Lakes Fire Chief Tom Nelson said one room was heavily fire damaged, although later Thursday night he and representatives from the Minnesota State Fire Marshal's Office were investigating the cause.
Also observed on scene were North Memorial Ambulance personnel, volunteer first responders and area police officers.
A first responder on scene noted medical personnel were evaluating residents as a precaution.
Home health aide Jeremiah Kretzman of Baxter was working inside the attached Upper Lodge residence when the fire alarm sounded.
"I actually thought it was a drill," Kretzman said. "And then I could smell smoke."
Kretzman said he thought he and other staff members moved the residents of Upper Lodge to safety in fewer than 10 minutes. He said although he felt "a little panicky," a recent fire drill helped him keep his cool.
"I've done one fire drill, and it was like one week or two weeks ago," said Kretzman, who's worked at Heritage House since January.
Nurse Tamie Anderson of Pequot Lakes was home in her pajamas enjoying an ice tea on her deck when she got the call to help evacuate. Anderson said eight residents each live in the Upper and Lower lodges, and nearby Upper Angel for memory care patients houses 15. All three were evacuated in short order, she said.
"This team is rockstars," she said, pointing to co-worker Tammy Clark as she rushed between residents and staff. "She's the one who called everyone together. She did the phone triage perfect."
Up the paved driveway, Dave Allison maneuvered an electric wheelchair away from the scene. The 64-year-old said Thursday was just his second night at Heritage House.
"Makes it a little exciting," Allison said. "They didn't need to throw a party like this."
Heritage House of Pequot Lakes is located on a 20-acre campus with five residential units serving the needs of the aging population. Those needs range from independent individuals to those completely dependent, the company's website stated.