Sunday house fire marks 3rd in a week for Brainerd firefighters

All occupants and their pets exited the home safely, but will be displaced until the house can be repaired.

Flames Illustration

ST. MATHIAS TOWNSHIP — Brainerd firefighters responded Sunday, Jan. 16, to a third house fire in the span of a week.

A 911 call at 12:09 p.m. prompted the Brainerd Fire Department to respond to the blaze in St. Mathias Township, south of Brainerd. The caller reported she thought a dryer started an electrical fire in the home.

Upon arrival, crews found heavy black smoke rising from the eaves of the home but were quickly able to extinguish a fire in the kitchen with the help of 24 firefighters, reported Brainerd Fire Chief Tim Holmes. Firefighters remained at the scene for about three hours, ensuring no hot spots remained and fire did not extend to other areas of the home.

All occupants and their pets exited the home safely, but will be displaced until the house can be repaired. Moderate smoke and heat damage occurred throughout the house. Holmes said the cause is under investigation with the homeowner’s insurance company but is not believed to be suspicious.

Sunday’s event marked the third structure fire requiring Brainerd Fire Department response since Jan. 10. That night, 26 firefighters worked to contain a fire originating in the kitchen of a home on the 700 block of Southeast 19th Street in Brainerd. The lone occupant along with one of two dogs escaped the burning home, but the second dog perished. The newly married homeowner and her husband were on their honeymoon out of state at the time of the fire.


Photo illustration showing a burning home and a wedding photo
On the left, Brainerd firefighters respond to a fire at Julie Meszaros' southeast Brainerd home Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. On the right, Meszaros and husband Raymond Shimek pose together at their wedding two days before the blaze.
Photo illustration / Chelsey Perkins

The structure was saved, but the fire left extensive damage to the first-floor kitchen and living room along with smoke and heat damage throughout the first floor and into the second, leaving it uninhabitable. Some water damage occurred as well. Holmes said the fire originated from unattended cooking, but it remained unclear last week whether the food inside the air fryer caught fire or if the appliance itself sparked the flames.

Three days later on Thursday, an early morning blaze on the 1100 block of Pine Street in Brainerd again prompted fire department response . Heavy smoke and flames could be seen coming from the home at 4:11 a.m.

The occupants — three adults — made it out of the building, which Holmes credited to working smoke detectors. A dog and cat were also in the house at the time of the fire. The dog succumbed to its injuries and the cat remained unaccounted for as of Friday, Holmes said.

Aftermath of house fire on Pine Street in Brainerd.
Damage on a home from an early morning fire Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, is visible on a home on Pine Street in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Severe damage occurred on both levels of the house, making it uninhabitable. The occupants of the house would stay with friends in town, the fire chief reported. The neighboring house sustained cosmetic damage to its siding due to the heat of the fire.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, but foul play was not suspected, Holmes said.

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