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A WOOD STOVE in the basement is the suspected cause of the fire that gutted this house on West Avenue in DL.

man escapes early-morning blaze: Fire destroys DL home

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man escapes early-morning blaze: Fire destroys DL home
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

An early morning fire destroyed the home of an 86-year-old Detroit Lakes man Tuesday.

The fire is believed to have started in the basement of the house at 820 West Avenue, possibly from a wood-burning stove, according to Detroit Lakes Fire Chief Dave Baer.


"Indications are it could be something with the wood stove, but that's not confirmed," Baer said, adding that the exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined by the state fire marshal's office, which is investigating the incident.

Baer noted that the call came in at around 1:20 a.m. Tuesday.

"When I arrived at the scene the fire was coming out the windows and it was already through the roof of the home, which was pretty much engulfed in flames," he said. "We were out there about two and a half hours. We finished up at around 4 a.m."

No one was injured in the fire, though it was a close call for the home's 86-year-old owner, Harold Johnson, who lived there alone.

"He didn't have his hearing aids on, so he didn't hear the smoke alarms go off, but he just woke up for some reason and realized the house was on fire," Baer said. "He said he could feel the heat on his back as he ran out (of the house).

"He's a lucky guy. The fire started right below his bedroom."

A neighbor said Johnson came across the alley to her house, banged on the door, and she alerted authorities.

The house sustained extensive damage, and the shell is pretty much all that remains, Baer said.

-- Vicki Gerdes