Deerwood firefighters honored for rescuing woman from house fire

Two Deerwood Fire Department firefighters were recognized for their heroic efforts Wednesday, April 6, at the Deerwood Fire Department.

Deerwood Firefighter Recognition
Firefighters Andrew Kayfes, center right, and David Aulie, right, receive plaques from Deerwood Fire Chief Mike Bodle and Deerwood Mayor John Taylor on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in Deerwood.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

DEERWOOD — Two Deerwood Fire Department firefighters, who rescued a woman earlier this year, were recognized for their heroic efforts Wednesday, April 6, at the Deerwood Fire Department.

In the early hours of a chilly Jan. 7 morning, minutes after waking up, firefighters David Aulie and Andrew Kayfes entered a smoke-filled house and rescued a community member.

Both said they were just doing their job.

“It feels great to be recognized, but anybody on the department would have done that same thing,” Kayfes said, in an interview with the Dispatch.

The Dispatch reported Jan. 8 that the Deerwood Fire Department was called to a house fire at 4:34 a.m. Jan. 7 on the 21000 block of Wood Lane Road. The caller reported he was out of the house, but a woman and two children, boys ages 14 and 15, were still inside. When first responders arrived, the children had made it out of the home, but the 35-year-old Ironton woman was still inside.


Deerwood Fire Department Chief Mike Bodle said when firefighters arrived members from the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office and the Crosby Police Department were attempting to gain entry into the house, which was engulfed in flames and smoke.

“Locating the nearest bedroom window for entry with the help of the homeowner, Deerwood Fire Department arriving crews made entry through a second-story window by ladder,” Bodle said. “They did a quick search and located the unresponsive victim in very challenging conditions with zero visibility due to thick black smoke and a fully engulfed structure. The team efficiently extracted the victim down the ladder with the help of the outside crews from other fire departments, members of police departments and EMS crews.”

The woman who was rescued and her family were present at the awards ceremony but politely declined to comment.

Aulie said it’s all training and muscle memory when you wake up from a deep sleep and rush to a fire. Both men said they did not know at the time if the woman was alive, only that they needed to get her to safety.

“I had no idea,” Aulie said. “I mean, you find an unconscious person and get them out as fast and hope for the best. And it worked out.”

Headline News from the Brainerd Dispatch

Presenting the award was Deerwood Mayor John Taylor, who thanked the two firefighters and the fire department for the work they do every day to keep the residents of Deerwood safe. Along with the two men receiving the award, Bodle also presented the department with an award for their combined efforts.

“Everybody's trying to push away any thanks — you know, don't make a big deal out of it — but really, we know, without the commitment to constant training every month, every year, a situation like this just cannot happen,” Bodle said. “It takes every single person that was on scene that day or you don't know what the outcome could be. … Without that dedication from these guys to serve their communities as firefighters, it could have had a much different outcome.”

Bodle also thanked the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center Ambulance crew, the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office deputies and dispatchers and the Crosby Police Department officers for all their help working together to have a successful outcome.


TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email .

Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
What To Read Next
Get Local


Must Reads