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Associated Press, Published July 07 2011

New Ulm bed and breakfast where 6 died in fire not licensed, inspected

NEW ULM, Minn. – An annual safety inspection of the New Ulm inn that caught fire, killing six people, had not been conducted because the owner said the building would not be housing guests, according to a local fire marshal.

Additionally, city records show owner Roberta McCrea did not apply for a license to use the Bohemian Bed and Breakfast for lodging in 2011.

New Ulm Fire Marshal Ellwood Zabel said he inspected only the adjacent carriage house in December 2010 because McCrea said “she wasn’t going to be using the main house as a bed and breakfast.”

McCrea, 48, was among those who died in the fire, the Ramsey County medical examiner’s office confirmed Thursday. Her daughters, Abby Gayle Wood, 15, and Savannah Grace McCrea, 3, were

also killed.

The other three people killed were Andrew Uhing, 67, of Hardington, Neb.; and Dian Lee Bergman, 59, and Joseph J. Bergman, 62, of Centuria, Wis.

The medical examiner’s office determined Joseph Bergman died of burns and the rest died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Uhing’s wife, Sandy, jumped to safety from the second story. The Uhings’ son, Wilfred, told the Star Tribune that his mother suffered smoke inhalation, burns to her right hand and a fractured vertebra in her back.

Joseph and Dian Bergman were vacationing at the inn with the Uhings, their longtime friends, according to their son, Jacob Bergman of Centuria. The Bergman family lived in Nebraska before moving to Wisconsin about 20 years ago, he said.

Bergman said his parents were married for nearly 38 years and that they farmed near Centuria in Polk County and worked other jobs. He says his parents were strict but fair in raising him and his brother and sister.

City records show inspection of the inn in two previous years uncovered problems that were corrected. Those corrections included moving a kitchen fire extinguisher from the stove and replacing batteries in smoke detectors. Zabel said when he arrived at the fire Saturday, he could hear smoke alarms had activated.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the New Ulm Fire Department, the state fire marshal’s office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which officials said was routine in large-scale fire investigations.