Officials: Dry Conditions, Human Error Cause Fire

Homeowner Was Burning Pine Needles

Duluth, Minn.

The winter snow pack is gone, wildfires have begun and on top of that human error mixed in has created devastation for one Duluth home owner.

It all happened at this home on the 500 block of 18th avenue east.

Using a handheld torch to burn dry pine needles quickly turned into an all-out inferno. Human flames that took off out of control in part because of the really dry conditions. A simple mistake while cleaning brush from his yard has left one Duluth resident without a home tonight including a personal collection of knick knacks that covered parts of his home.

“It started behind him and grew out of control so I called 911,” says one neighbor.

The homeowner off camera tells Fox 21 he had a wet rag handy just in case something went wrong but that clearly wasn’t enough to beat the fuel and dry conditions.

Flames quickly spread to nearby brush and eventually to the house destroying years of treasure.

“On arrival firefighters encountered the house in flames on two sides of the home.” says Assistant Fire Chief with the Duluth Fire Dpt. Chris Martinson

Nearby neighbors look at the house every day, some bringing friends and family by to enjoy the work.

“I bring friends here from out of town and show them how interesting it is, he took it a little bit further,” says Neighbor Susan Darley.

Although a simple mistake burning within city limits is illegal.

“But every spring people still do it, people want to clean up their yard and end up putting it in a pile and burning is the best solution and in the city of Duluth it’s just not.” says Martinson.

Duluth fire officials say people need to be using extreme caution right now during wildfire season to avoid what happened here or even something worse.

“I can’t give better advice than using common since, that’s all I can offer you,” says Martinson.

The home owner has lived here for nearly 20 years collecting antique’s through it all.

Following easy safety tips may have kept his treasures from harm.

“Having a camp fire is absolutely fine in the City of Duluth. Have it in a fire ring. Make sure its 25 feet from any structure. Make sure the flame size isn’t more than 2 feet wide and 3 feet high. Have some water nearby and pay attention to it. Keep an eye on it, when you’re done enjoying your camp fire put it out.” says Martinson.

According to fire officials the estimated total damage to the home will exceed 100 thousand dollars. That amount doesn’t include the sentimental value of all his collectibles lost in the fire.

Another tip officials tell us you can do is to take a trip to WLSSD and drop your unwanted brush off there. Or take a trip out to your cabin where burning permits are easily obtained.

Just don’t do it within city limits to avoid a possible fine.

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