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UND student rescued from burning home dies

Matthew Heisler, found unconscious in his house near UND in a house fire Sunday, died Tuesday morning in a Minneapolis hospital, according to his family.

“This morning we had to say goodbye to our beloved son,” Jared and Cheryl Heisler said in a news release Tuesday afternoon. “In accordance with his wishes, his organs will be donated so that others can live. We just cannot express how much we will miss Matthew and how the thought of going through the rest of our lives without him is beyond what we can imagine right now.”

Heisler, 21, was pulled from the house at 2029 First Ave. S., by his roommate, Ryan Nelson, also 21, who came home about2:40 a.m., Sunday, to find the house filled with smoke.

Fire officials ruled it an accidental fire caused by food left unattended cooking on top of the electric stove. Smoke detectors were operating at the time fire fighters entered the house, said Fire Marshal Brian Geatz. Heisler apparently was alone in the house when the fire started.

Matthew Heisler was airlifted Sunday to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis where he had been in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

His parents live in Lakeville, Minn., just south of the Twin Cities. He has a sister, Casey, a high school senior.

“We want to thank everyone who has prayed for Matthew and supported us during this difficult time,” his parents wrote. “Please continue to pray for those who will be blessed by life-giving transplants from Matthew, and for his family and friends.”

UND President Robert Kelley released a statement Tuesday night expressing "heartfelt condolences to Matt's family and many friends at UND and elsewhere." He said Heisler was a student in the College of Business and Public Administration.

The house on fire Sunday near UND’s campus had working smoke detectors, placed where they were supposed to be but their alarm did not alert Heisler, according to Grand Forks Fire Department Tuesday.

It appears that food, oil and grease spilled and spattered on the stove helped fuel the fire, so it ignited faster, said Fire Marshal Brian Geatz.

Geatz said he’s waiting to interview Nelson, who has been in Minneapolis.

Nelson was treated for smoke inhalation at Altru Hospital and released Sunday. Heisler was airlifted to Minneapolis.