Suspicious fire destroys home in Franklin Township

May 19, 2008

Second fire damages home in Independence at same time

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

Two simultaneous fires kept members of local fire departments busy last Monday morning, and investigators are considering one of them suspicious.

The first fire was reported in southern Franklin Township in a newer addition on Eckert Avenue Southeast, and was called in by several neighbors.

The Watertown Fire Department responded, and quickly called for mutual aid from Maple Plain Fire Department.

“As soon as we saw a big glow, we called for mutual aid,” said Watertown Fire Chief Hubie Widmer, adding that mutual aid was provided by fire departments from Delano, Mayer, St. Boni, Montrose, and Waconia, which stood by at the Watertown Fire Department to handle any additional calls that may have came in for Watertown.

Widmer said the cause of the fire is unknown at this point, and remains under investigation by the state fire marshal. He said there is no certificate of occupancy for the residence, but said it appeared as if someone had been using it as an office and that there were personal belongings in it.

Lt. Mike Evan of the Wright County Sheriff’s Office said the fire is being considered suspicious in nature.

After battling the fire on Eckert Avenue for almost an hour, a call came for Maple Plain Fire Department and West Hennepin Public Safety for a bedroom on fire at a residence on Ingerson Road in Independence.

Members of the Maple Plain Fire Department arrived at 4:48 a.m. and found everyone was safely out of the residence. They observed flames coming from the second story bedroom window. The fire was contained to the upper level of the home and extinguished.

“One resident was transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation,” said West Hennepin Public Safety (WHPS) Director Ray McCoy.

Already being called out to assist with the fire in Franklin Township helped the response time to the fire call in Independence.

“Maple Plain Fire Department was assisting Watertown Fire Department on a house fire and had a standby crew at the fire station when the call came in,” said Maple Plain Fire Chief Nathan Jerde. “This enabled a quick four-minute response time to the fire scene, which limited the damage to the residence.”

The Hennepin County Fire Chiefs Investigative Team is assisting WHPS with the investigation of the cause of the fire. Maple Plain was assisted by Long Lake, Loretto, and Mound fire departments.

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