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Fire spreads quickly, destroying house and displacing 3 in southeast Brainerd

The cause of the fire appeared to have been electrical, fire officials said.

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Firefighters work to extinguish a house fire Sunday, March 8, on Norwood Street in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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As flames and heavy smoke shot out of the windows and the roof of a southeast Brainerd home Sunday, March 8, the homeowner, Linda Raden, sat at her neighbor's house worried about the safety of the family’s three cats and her little dog Roxie.

About 20 Brainerd firefighters battled the blaze defensively from all sides of the house, saving the house next door from burning except for melted siding on one side of the house.

The Brainerd Fire Department was dispatched to the structure fire about 6:30 p.m. Several Brainerd police officers evacuated people from the nearby home in case the fire got out of control. Officers also helped the displaced family members to make sure they were not injured and provided them information from the American Red Cross. Police squads were used to block traffic to allow room for the emergency vehicles to get on scene. The fire department deployed several of its fire tankers and its ladder truck along the 1100 block of Norwood Street and an adjacent street.

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The neighborhood was a busy scene, as the lights, sirens and the fire grabbed people’s attention. Neighbors lined the sidewalks in all directions to watch the fire destroy the home. As temperatures were in the upper 40s, several kids stopped on their bikes to watch. One boy excitedly said he wants to be a firefighter when he grows up.

Raden, shaken from the events of the day, sat at her neighbor’s home while the firefighters worked on extinguishing the fire. Raden said she has lived in the home built in the early 1900s for the past four years with her future daughter-in-law Kelly Ebel and her brother Kevin Dondelinger.

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Neighbors console a resident while firefighters work to extinguish a house fire Sunday, March 8, on Norwood Street in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Raden said she just got out of the shower when her brother came running into the house from the front porch yelling “fire.”

“He tried to put it out, but it was electrical,” she said. “You could see the smoke coming in. It happened so fast.

“I tried to get my dog to come to me, but she was so scared and went to hide. I had stuff falling on me (and had to get out). ... I still have stuff on me.”

Her neighbor, Ila MacFarland, said she had just happened to look outside when she saw Raden’s house on fire.

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“I screamed ‘Fire’ and said we gotta get Linda out,” she said. “But they were already out.”

As Raden and Ebel sat and chatted with MacFarland, they said everything they own was in the house. They have family photographs and memorabilia and important documents that most likely would be lost forever. They were grateful no one got hurt.

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Firefighters work to extinguish a house fire Sunday, March 8, on Norwood Street in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Battalion Chief Joe Rubado of the Brainerd Fire Department said it appears the cause of the fire is electrical. Rubado said being an older home and due to the rapid oxidation of combustible elements the fire spread quickly.

Rubado said since the fire spread so quickly and overtook the house, firefighters had to extinguish the fire defensively — from the exterior. The Nisswa Fire Department was called for mutual aid and sent 10 firefighters to assist in knocking the fire down and to help with overhaul.

As firefighters continued to knock down the fire, Rubado said once it is safe they will go inside the house and investigate.

When asked if the firefighters saw any pets wandering around, Rubado answered, “We didn’t see any pets come out.”

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For more photos, go to https://bit.ly/2TJwuk0 .

JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at jennifer.kraus@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.

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