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Welch home destroyed by fire

For the fourth time in just two weeks, fire destroyed a home in Goodhue County.

In the latest incident, the Red Wing Fire Department was dispatched to 1815 Chayka St. in Welch Township just before 10 a.m. Saturday.

Crews arrived on scene in 13 minutes and were able to extinguish the blaze within 30 minutes, Capt. Dan Simonson said in a statement.

The home was vacant when the fire broke out, and no firefighters or residents were injured, Chief Tom Schneider said. He added that no one had actually been living there at the time, and the house was only being used for storage.

"The structure and contents were a total loss," he said.

Schneider said it's not yet clear who the property owner is.

Red Wing Fire Marshal Andy Speltz was investigating the cause of the fire as of Tuesday afternoon. He said he was working on ruling out heating sources as the cause.

A rash of fires

For the Red Wing Fire Department, Saturday's blaze was the second house fire firefighters responded to in just more than a week. Crews were called to 6170 Bunch Road in Welch March 28. Homeowner Gary Miller noticed smoke and called authorities. He was able to get out of the house, and there were no injuries.

Miller's home sustained the most damage to its roof and top floor, though smoke and water caused significant damage to the rest of the structure.

While the exact cause of that fire is still being investigated, Schneider said the fire originated near the chimney and is probably related to the home's fireplace.

Just two days later, the Wanamingo Fire Department was called to 216 Third Ave., in Wanamingo after neighbors saw smoke coming from the house, owned by Deb Delva. The house was a total loss, Fire Chief Scott Goodman said. No one was home at the time of the fire, and no one was injured.

The state fire marshal has finished an investigation, but the cause of the fire was not yet available to media Tuesday afternoon, Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Jen Longaecker said.

On March 23, Goodhue Fire Department helped extinguish a blaze at 20059 290th St., rural Red Wing. Homeowners Jeffrey and Holly Simonson and their 8-year-old son escaped the home without major injuries, though they lost three dogs in the blaze. The state fire marshal also is still investigating the cause of the fire.

Schneider said Goodhue County doesn't usually see this many house fires in the spring months.

"It does seem like an odd time of year to have fires," he said.

"Typically we see an increase in structure fires around the holidays."

He added that there isn't a single reason for why there have seen so many homes destroyed by fire lately.

"It might just be an unusual circumstance," he said.

Schneider added that this type of weather is easiest for fire crews to work in. The spring temperatures mean hoses don't freeze up -- like they do in the winter. But the relatively cool temperatures mean firefighters only need to contend with the heat when they're inside the burning structure.

"If you come out (of the structure fire) and it's 80 degrees out, you don't get to recover," he said. "This time of year, you get to cool off. This weather is conducive to firefighter rehabilitation."

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.