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Family loses everything to house fire

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news Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

At 5:24 a.m. on July 5 disaster stuck at the home of a Lake Park family. A fire destroyed their home and belongings, leaving behind a few charred walls — they lost everything.

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Eleven people, including homeowner Richard Olson and his family, managed to escape the fire.

Sleeping inside the home were Olson, his wife, and their three kids, the family’s six pets — three cats and three dogs — as well as friends and family visiting over the holiday weekend.

The entire family was awakened by one of the visitors, “He must have smelt the smoke or something,” said Olson. Once up, the young man then woke up another friend of the family, and the two young men then woke up everyone else in the household.

The fire detectors eventually went off, but by then a majority of the family had escaped out of the door. The exception was Olson himself.

“I went downstairs to take a look around,” he said. “It was really hazy and then I saw flames in the kitchen window. I went back upstairs, and when I tried to get back down it was too smoky and I couldn’t; so I had to go out the window,” he said.

Fire crews from both Lake Park and Audubon responded and remained there for five hours, with about 20 firefighters on the scene, said Lake Park Fire Chief Vance Larson.

He said that once they were safely outside, the family tried to fight the flames with a garden hose but, “it (the fire) just got so big, there was nothing they were gonna be able to do.”

“We were very fortunate,” said Olson. Although the fire engulfed the house quickly, everybody managed to escape safely. Unfortunately, two of the family’s dogs didn’t make it out in time.

The Olsons had been living in the house for seven years. He is currently living at the site of his home in a camper while his wife and kids stay in town in Lake Park.

Rebuilding the house is, “up in the air right now, but that’s probably what we’ll end up wanting to do,” he said.

No one really knows how the fire started. The state fire marshal’s office did an investigation, but Olson said it was inconclusive.

Larson said if he had to guess, he thought perhaps fireworks or an electrical problem started it, but he hadn’t spoken to the fire marshal at the time.

The area hasn’t seen a house fire in quite some time, in fact, “I can’t even remember the last time we had a house fire,” said Larson.

Although they lost all of their belongings, Olson says he and his family are doing fairly well, given the circumstances.

“A lot of people have really helped out,” said Olson. If interested in donating to the family, contact Olson at 612-940-6460.

Haley Foster | DL-Online

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