Brother, Sister Of Fire Victims Thank Duluth Firefighters, Community

DULUTH, Minn. – A brother and sister who lost their sister and nephew in a weekend apartment fire in Duluth are thanking the firefighters who tried to save their relatives and for the outpouring of community support with the unexpected funeral costs.

Fatal fires are not common in Duluth, especially fires that take the life of more than one person. But that rarity is now a reality for a Duluth family.

As FOX 21’s Dan Hanger, they are in shock — not only from the tragedy, but also the level of support from family, friends and strangers.

“It was completely blocked off, so I couldn’t even get close. I just knew it was bad,” explained Erin Olson, brother and nephew of the victims.Fire Victims

It’s a sight and fear nobody wants to ever experience.

“The second you see those fire engines and they’re still trying to get into the other apartments, you can just see that it’s terrible,” Erin said.

Erin and his sister, Mara, lost their 52-year-old sister, Michelle (Micki) Olson, and 24-year-old nephew, Patrick, early Saturday morning to an apartment fire on the corner of 6th Avenue East and 3rd Street in Duluth.

While helplessly watching on that morning, there was nothing they could do but watch Duluth firefighters risk their own lives to try to help their relatives.

“They risked their lives for that and we can only thank them for doing what they do,” Mara said.

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Duluth firefighters pull back after fire flashed over.

“And they were the ones resuscitating her outside when they got her out. They resuscitated her for 30 minutes,” Erin explained.

Michelle was rescued from a two-story window but later died at a hospital. Firefighters tried to save Patrick, too, but were pushed back by a flash of fire.

“They completely risked their lives and we appreciate everything they tried to do, honestly,” Erin said.

On Tuesday, after three days of processing everything, Erin and Mara said they’re trying to stay strong, holding onto those memories, like a video of Michelle during Christmas when she excitedly got tickets to a Broadway show.

“She loved musicals, she loved reading, just all of that stuff,” Erin said. “Micki was an extremely generous heart. She didn’t have much, but what she had to give she would give freely to anyone in need.”

“Wherever Micki was, Patrick was there, too. He was always behind her, helping her with a lot of things,” Mara said.

As the investigation into a cause of the fire continues, and as the city moves forward to demolish the building, Erin and Mara are preparing for unexpected funerals. But they’re thankful, they say, for the unexpected financial support through GoFundMe to make those funerals a little easier to bear.

“It’s great to know we have such a good community and friendships and even strangers that care,” Mara said.

Duluth fire officials said the building was up to code at the time of the fire. This is the third fatal fire in that structure within the last few years.

Assist. Fire Chief Dennis Edwards said smoke alarms were sounding when crews arrived on scene.

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