The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 24, 2013

Officers smell smoke, rescue couple from fire

Chief: Le Sueur house a total loss due to fire, smoke and water damage

Dan Nienaber

---- — LE SUEUR — Police officers in Le Sueur are being credited for getting a couple out of their house while a fire was burning in the attic.

The officers started searching the city early Friday morning after smelling smoke, said Le Sueur Fire Chief Tom Obele. One officer found smoke coming from the roof of a house at 303 S. Second St. and called the Fire Department at about 5:10 a.m.

He also pounded on the door of the house to wake whoever was inside. The couple inside escaped with two dogs before firefighters arrived. Obele said he couldn't confirm the name of the officer and Police Chief Bruce Kelly didn't immediately return a call from The Free Press.

Obele only knew the owner had a last name of Vail. Justin Vail and Jessica Henrich are listed as the owners of the house in Le Sueur County assessors records.

The fire was difficult to put out because the house had three separate attics and the fire spread through all of them, Obele said. Firefighters, who fought the fire for about two hours, had to get into each attic to put the fire out.

At one point a portion of the roof collapsed and hit a firefighter. He was taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released. Obele would not say which firefighter was injured.

A cat that hadn't left with the couple and the dogs also had to be rescued by firefighters, Obele said. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Obele also said the house is a total loss. The second floor is gone and there's extensive water and smoke damage to the first floor and basement, he said.