Passersby help Dilworth homeowner escape house fire

DILWORTH, Minn. (KVRR) – Authorities say a home fire in Dilworth left a man in the hospital and the house a total loss.

Dilworth and Moorhead fire crews were called out to the house on 7th Avenue Northeast at around 7:30 Thursday morning.

Dilworth Fire Asst. Chief Scott Payne says the fire started in the middle of the house but soon spread to other areas.

“We had it initially knocked down in about 10 minutes, but then it extended into the ceiling, towards the garage and also in the back bedrooms, which we couldn’t get to, so we had to approach that from the outside. We had to cut holes in the outside and force water in, so we basically chased it,” Payne explained.

Fire crews say part of what made knocking the fire down a little more difficult is that it’s a ‘hoarder house,’ so moving around inside was challenging.

“A lot of stuff,” Payne added. “If you take a look around, you’ll see we pulled out a lot of stuff, and that caused some issues with us getting in to attack the fire.”

When fire crews arrived, the homeowner was already out of the house.

That’s thanks to Red River Electric, Inc. employees who were on their way to a job site at the time.

“They saw flames coming out of this house and they quickly pulled in and they saw a man in the doorway, half in and out that was struggling to get outside. He wasn’t breathing well,” said Red River Electric Assistant Manager Robyn Nugent.

Nugent says Clyde Smestad and Jeff Gabrielson’s experiences as veterans prepared them well for an emergency like this.

“One of the guys had to tear off the gate to get to him,” she explained. “They both carried him out, put him in our work vehicle and then the police arrived and took over after that. They did the right thing, and I think they’re heroes and we’re proud of them.”

Dilworth Police say the homeowner may have suffered some smoke inhalation but should be okay.

One of the two cats reported to be inside has been found dead. The other has not been found.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

Categories: Local News, Minnesota News