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Family IDs victims in Beltrami/Hubbard County line fire

Bemidji, Cass Lake, Sherwood and Hamstead fire departments responded to a call of a fully engulfed structure on Beltrami Line Road Tuesday night.

HUBBARD COUNTY -- The victims in a home destroyed by fire Tuesday night have been identified. 

Phyllis Kleeb, 79, and her son Frank Kleeb, 56, were inside the residence when it caught fire. Phyllis' sister-in-law, Marcia Kleeb, was notified Wednesday morning of Phyllis and Frank's passing. Marcia could see the flames from her back door Tuesday night.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," Marcia said. "I haven't gone over to look."

The Bemidji, Cass Lake and Lakeport fire departments responded to a call of a fully engulfed structure at 26897 Beltrami Line Road south of Bemidji in Helga Township Tuesday night. The fire call came in at 7:52 p.m. The Hubbard County Sheriff's Office received a call at approximately 7:30 p.m. Marcia said a neighbor first noticed the fire and called the fire department.

Since the house was on the north side of the road, in Hubbard County, Cass Lake took the lead. The fire departments were on the scene approximately eight hours.

"The home and its contents are considered a total loss," said Bemidji Fire Chief Dave Hoefer in a press release Wednesday morning.

Original reports indicated it was unknown if anyone was inside the home, according to a Hubbard County Sheriff’s deputy on scene Tuesday night. Once the flames were extinguished authorities located the remains of two deceased individuals inside the residence. The Hubbard County Sheriff's Office has not yet confirmed the Kleeb's identities. The cause of the fire is under investigation at this time.

Thirty-four firefighters used one engine, four water tenders and approximately 24,000 gallons of water to extinguish the flames. The Bemidji School District provided a bus to warm firefighters in the sub-zero temperatures. The fire departments were assisted by the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, Hubbard County Sheriff's Office, Beltrami County Emergency Management, the State Fire Marshal's Office, Beltrami Electric Co-op, Hubbard County Highway Department, Lakeport First Response and the Bemidji Ambulance Service.

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Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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