UPDATE MONDAY 10:30 A.M.: Alexandria firefighters respond to two house fires, blocks apartAlexandria firefighters responded to two house fires within three blocks of each other in the last three days.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
Alexandria firefighters responded to two house fires within three blocks of each other in three days.
The first fire happened at 520 5th Avenue East near Lake Street shortly before midnight on Friday.
Alexandria police officers responded to the scene and found the outside of the home near the porch area engulfed in flames and smoke.
The officers kicked down a door and rescued two people who were sleeping inside, a tenant, Jordan Palm, and his guest, Rachel Bones, according to Alexandria Fire Chief Jeff Karrow.
The home, valued at about $120,000, is owned by David Prchal. Two other tenants, Shay and Natalie Rodriguez, were not home at the time of the fire, Karrow said.
The West Central Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross was called to help the displaced tenants find housing.
Although the cause of the fire is undetermined, Karrow said he suspects it was caused by smoking. The fire started in the porch area and worked its way inside the soffits of the balloon-framed structure.
Firefighters were able to contain the blaze so it caused mostly exterior damage, which the owner should be able to repair, Karrow said. Some smoke and water damage was also reported.
The other fire happened at 812 Lake Street, about three blocks away, on Monday afternoon at the Linda Maffo residence.
Maffo’s daughter went to visit her around 3 p.m. when she detected smoke and called 911.
Firefighters arrived and found the basement filled with smoke. Clothes had been placed in a dryer early that morning and caught fire, Karrow said. Maffo was not home when the fire happened.
Firefighters removed the smoldering, charred dryer and a dog from inside the home. The dog, named "Harold," was rushed to The Country Vet where it died later that night from smoke inhalation. A cat, “Callie,” also died in the fire.
There was no fire damage to the home, only smoke damage.
“I think our guys did a tremendous job, especially showing professionalism and respect for the animals,” Karrow said. “Sometimes people’s pets can be as precious as their siblings or children and we have to remember that.”
Alexandria police officers assisted at the scene of both fires and North Ambulance also responded.