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No smoke detectors in fatal fire

Smoke billows out of a mobile home at 1611 Sixth Ave. E. in Alexandria, three hours after firefighters responded to the call. (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press) 1 / 3
Jimmy Chandler and his daughter, Deanna, lived in the same mobile home park, Viking City, in Alexandria. Jimmy and his girlfriend, Rose Couillard, died in a fire Friday morning. (Contributed) 2 / 3
Alexandria firefighters work the scene of a fatal fire at Viking City Mobile Home Park in Alexandria. Two people died in the blaze. (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press) 3 / 3

Jimmy Chandler Jr. was a loving and kind person, according to his 18-year-old daughter, Deanna Chandler.

"He loved everybody," she said. "He would accept anybody as his kid."

Deanna lives in the same mobile home park, Viking City near Sixth Avenue and Victor Street in Alexandria, where her father met and fell in love with his girlfriend, Rose Marie Couillard.

"She was quiet but nice — an honest and good person," Deanna said.

"She loved Jimmy with all she had," said Maria Chandler, Jimmy's daughter-in-law. "I know they never wanted to be apart. They would always say they wouldn't want to live without the other."

On Friday, Jimmy, 49, and Rose, 59, died after an early morning fire spread through the mobile home where they had lived for the last year and a half.

There were no working smoke detectors in the mobile home, according to Alexandria Fire Chief Jeff Karrow.

The fire was reported shortly before 5 a.m. after witnesses saw smoke and flames.

The Alexandria Fire Department, North Ambulance and the Alexandria Police Department responded. The first fire engine pulled up within five minutes, according to Karrow.

Responding units were were told that two people might have been inside the home. The fire department was able to knock down the flames enough to enter the residence and found two people in the back bedroom.

Both victims were taken out of the home and life saving measures were started, but they were later pronounced dead.

Their two dogs, Pacco and Duke, also died in the fire.

A total of 28 of the department's 30 members responded to the fire, Karrow said. They were at the scene for about five hours.

Fighting the fire in 10-below temperatures presented some challenges, according to Karrow. They had to switch out their gloves and their suits turned into "blocks of ice," he said.

Karrow said this was the first fatal fire in Douglas County in 15 years, going back to Oct. 24, 2002, when Tammy Nye, 36, died in an apartment fire above the stores at 529 ½ Broadway in Alexandria.

Friday's fire was the first fatal one in Minnesota in 2018.

Karrow and the state fire marshal investigated the scene and Karrow said they are awaiting autopsy results from the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office before officially releasing the cause of the fire.

Years ago, Jimmy Chandler worked for Barrel O' Fun Snack Foods in Perham. Currently he was working as a machine operator at Alexandria Industries.

"He liked hanging out with his kids, his grandkids and Rose," Deanna Chandler said. "He liked to grill outside for everybody."

Jimmy had four children — Deanna, Serina Chandler of Alexandria, Jeremy Chandler of Bluffton and Mary Ellis, who lives in Washington state.

Couillard had three sons.

Funeral arrangements were pending as of Monday.

Reporters Celeste Edenloff and Beth Leipholtz contributed to this story.

Fund started to help family

Friends of Jimmy Chandler and Rose Couillard have started a GoFundMe page to help the family — https://www.gofundme.com/4z2h3gw.

"There are countless things to be done and many worries at hand, from planning a funeral to cremating their beloved dogs," the page says. "Everything comes down to money and the dollar only stretches so far for 18-year-old Deanna Chandler (Jimmy's daughter). ... We humbly ask for any donations in light of such a tragedy — to help put those left picking up the pieces of their lives to get back to what's important."

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