The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 12, 2014

St. Clair man burned trying to douse fire

83-year-old duplex owner escapes


"I was sound asleep," Miller said. "I went out to the kitchen area to check the stove and see if I left anything on, and the smoke alarm just kept going off. Then a lady from Minnesota Elevator and Ryan said I had to get out right now. She helped me put on my coat and boots, then I grabbed my purse and glasses and got out."

According to Rutjes' Facebook site, he is an electric guitar player who had played in area bands. Miller and Karels said he works for Speedy Delivery.

The house was built in 1915 and had a taxable value of about $88,000 for 2013, according to Blue Earth County property records.

"I'll be surprised if it's not a total loss," Fitzloff said. "We kept thinking we had it down, but it would pop up again. There's a bunch of additions on the house and there are no fire stops."

The St. Clair Fire Department, which is two houses away from the duplex, called for mutual aid from Eagle Lake and Pemberton.

The Red Cross responded to make sure Miller's emergency needs were met. A Red Cross worker told Karels a fund to help Miller would be set up at Hosanna Lutheran Church in Mankato.

The cause of the fire has not been determined as of Wednesday morning, Fitzloff said.

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