Dec. 18 , 2006

Fire strikes Winsted family

By Lynda Jensen

Two weeks before Christmas, a fire destroyed the house of Tim and Colleen Flaig located west of Winsted Tuesday night.

“It was a good thing that no one was hurt,” commented Chad Engel of the Winsted Fire Department.

The Flaigs have two children, a 4-year-old girl named Taylor, and a 2-year-old boy, TJ.

The wood stove in the basement appears to be the source for the blaze, said State Fire Marshal Casey Stotts. “Everything centers around the wood burning stove,” he said.

Tim Flaig was wrapping presents with one of the children when the blaze broke out, he said.

The call came at 7:27 p.m., Engel said.

The Winsted Fire Department responded in nine minutes, knocking down the fire in about four hours.

They were out until before midnight, with mutual assistance from Lester Prairie Fire Department, Engel said. Nineteen Winsted firefighters responded, as well as 24 volunteers from Lester Prairie.

The house was destroyed, but the barn was saved by the Winsted Fire Department – along with several horses that were being boarded in the barn – and the garage somehow remained intact, Engel said.

Friend of the family, Sue Goebel, reported that Colleen is boarding 21 horses, which were all present at the time of the fire, she said. “It’s a good thing they were inside the barn at that time,” she said.

The Flaigs have been living in their home along Cable Avenue for three years, Tim Flaig said.

“We were supposed to have Christmas here this year,” he said.

The family lost everything, except for tools that Tim has, and the clothes on their backs, Goebel said. However, Taylor was able to get out with her jacket, she added.

It looks like insurance will cover the loss, although this was uncertain at first, Goebel said.

The family vehicles were parked outside near the barn, and therefore not damaged, Engel said.

Tim Flaig is an electrician who works in the Twin Cities. Colleen operates a business where she boards horses and gives riding lessons at their Winsted home.

The fact that the fire department was able to keep the barn untouched is important to Colleen’s work.

“It’s her passion,” Sue Goebel said of Colleen’s love of horses and her business.

The fire department stopped by the next day to fill her tanks with water for her horses, Engel noted.

The Flaigs are staying with Steve and Sue Goebel for the time being.

An outpouring of support

Two families have come forward with offers to let the Flaigs stay at their vacant homes for the time being, Goebel reported Thursday.

Her phone has been ringing off the hook with sympathy and help for the family, Goebel said.

However, since the Flaigs lost all of their possessions, and even had to wear the same clothes the day after the fire, it will be a long road to recovery, she noted. “This is not just Christmas. They’re going to need some big help.”

Interested in helping Tim and Colleen Flaig?

Since the Flaig family lost everything, there is a long list of possible items that could be donated for those who are interested, commented friend Sue Goebel.

This includes the following: blankets, bedspreads and quilts (but not the homemade kind please), clear 20 gallon plastic storage containers, size 4 diapers, work jeans, work gloves, long underwear, warm mittens and gloves (youth small), basic items such as sippee cups and the like, and basic toiletries.

Adult clothes would be appreciated in the following sizes: women’s medium (size 12), men’s large (size 32x34), boys’ size 2T, and girls’ size 5. Shoes and boots for the children would be appreciated; they wear boys’ shoes size 8 and girls shoes size 11.

Since Colleen Flaig’s livelihood is keeping many horses, anything helpful toward this would be welcome. Some hay was donated already.

An account has been set up at Flagship Bank Winsted. Those interested may send donations to Flagship Bank, PO Box 130, Winsted MN 55395.

For the time being, they are set with furniture for wherever they end up, and don’t necessarily need children’s clothes for the time being (but adult clothes are needed), although nothing will be turned away, Goebel said.

Down the road, when they have a place to keep it, the family will need dishes, silverware, a coffee maker, toaster, and other items needed to fill a house. Those interested in helping may drop off any items at the Winsted Herald Journal office or may call Sue Goebel at (320) 485-3552.

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