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Al Edenloff, Forum Communications Co., Published February 07 2012

Fire destroys Alexandria duplex

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. – A fast-moving fire destroyed a duplex here on Monday afternoon.

Shortly after 1 p.m., a renter in the house woke up, smelled smoke, opened a hallway door and saw flames and smoke.

“He did everything right – he got out quickly and called 911,” said Alexandria Fire Chief Jeff Karrow.

The house is owned by Dean Roering, who also lives in the duplex but was out of town at the time of the fire.

Karrow estimated the damage, including personal property that was lost, at between $95,000 and $100,000.

The fire is believed to have started in the kitchen and isn’t considered suspicious, according to Karrow.

When firefighters arrived, they found flames and smoke coming out of the two-story structure.

The building had a balloon-style frame, which caused the fire to spread quickly, Karrow said.

Firefighters had to switch tactics to a defensive mode. Their main concern was stopping the fire from spreading to two other houses that were next to it.

To prevent cardiac arrests, the fire department recently started a new policy of having North Ambulance periodically check the vital signs of all firefighters who are sent in to battle a blaze. Firefighters are required to rest for 10 to 12 minutes before they re-enter the building.

A total of 28 of the Alexandria Fire Department’s 30 volunteer members responded to the scene.

The Forada Fire Department was called to provide additional manpower. They fought the fire for about three hours. No one was injured.

The renter got out with his dog. One cat was rescued and taken to a veterinary clinic. Another cat perished in the fire, Karrow said.

The Alexandria Police Department, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and North Ambulance assisted at the scene.

The West Central Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross provided assistance to the renter.

“All of our agencies work really well together,” Karrow said. “The fire department did a very good, efficient attack.”

Al Edenloff writes for the Alexandria Echo Press.