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An Osakis firefighter demonstrated how quickly kitchen grease fires can spread during a fire prevention open house. (Echo Press file photo)

Kitchen fire burns family out of home

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Preventing kitchen fires was the theme of the Alexandria Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Week, October 6-12.

It proved to be timely.

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Early Saturday, firefighters responded to a kitchen fire at the Oak Knoll Apartments at 505 North McKay Avenue at about 4:30 a.m.

The fire started when a pan that contained grease was left unattended on the stove, according to Fire Chief Jeff Karrow.

Firefighters evacuated the top two floors of the apartment building. The unit that caught fire was being rented by Tina Williams, along with her boyfriend and son.

Firefighters quickly knocked down the fire and contained it to the one apartment but damage had already been done. Karrow said the unit will have to undergo extensive repair, with new sheetrock, appliances and carpeting. He estimated the damage at $15,000.

No injuries were reported.

The apartment building is owned by Brad and Anita Collins.

A smoke detector was in the unit but had been deactivated. Karrow said.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross assisted the three displaced tenants by providing lodging, food and clothing. The Red Cross helps provide disaster relief for immediate recovery needs, such as shelter, clothing, food and emotional support.

The fire underscores statistics the Alexandria Fire Department cited in its Fire Prevention Week Proclamation: Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. Two out of every five home fires start in the kitchen, and unattended equipment was a factor in one-third of the reported cooking fires.

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER FIRE Another early morning fire happened the next day.

Just after 6 a.m. on Sunday, October 13, fire crews responded to a fire in an outbuilding at 3321 Lake Victoria in Alexandria.

According to the Alexandria Fire Department, the fire was caused by a wood burning stove in the shop. The fire was reportedly contained to the shop area inside the 30-by-48-foot structure.

There was extensive fire and smoke damage, but the structure was not a total loss. Karrow estimated the damage at about $20,000.

The property is owned by Timothy Ruud. No injuries were reported.

Alexandria Fire Department, Forada Fire Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Alexandria Police Department responded to the scene.  • • •

Reporter Amy Chaffins contributed to this story.

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Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
(320) 763-1236
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