FRAZEE, Minn. — A Frazee, Minn., family lost their home of 30 years, and all their possessions, in a blaze that began behind their dryer on Saturday, Jan. 2.
Arnie Krejce, 62, of Frazee, and his wife Tammy, bought the house on Pleasant View Road in 1990. Arnie is retired, and collects disability, and Tammy works as a teacher's assistant at Laker Prep Early Childhood Center in Detroit Lakes, Minn. They raised their four kids at this home as well.
"My wife came out and said, 'there's a fire behind the dryer,'" Krejce said. "So I grabbed the fire extinguisher and I tried to put it out and, the next thing I knew, my bedroom was glowing orange and the house was filling up with smoke so fast we couldn't do nothing."
Krejce said the fire had already spread to the inside of the bathroom wall by the time he attempted to put the fire out with the extinguisher, which is why he thinks he was unsuccessful.
"After that, I got the wife and daughter out of the house, and they called the fire department, and sat up on the road waiting for them," he said.
They watched their house burn for about the next 15 minutes, Krejce said.
"We watched it go from room, to room, to room, to our addition," he said.
The call of a dryer fire came in at about 2:50 p.m., said Frazee Fire Chief Joe Nelson.
"When we arrived on scene, the house was fully engulfed," he said. "Seeing the house was fully engulfed, it was too unsafe to do an interior attack, so we switched into an exterior attack and extinguished the blaze from the exterior."
Nelson said firefighters battled the house fire for about 45 minutes before focusing on eliminating the remaining hot spots.
"There was some structural collapse that happened in there as well, so that made it a little bit more difficult" Nelson said. "And then obviously at this time of the year with the snow on the ground ... it just makes it a little bit more challenging to get around the yard and carry a hose ... it's a little bit more strenuous on the crew."
The Frazee Fire Department was assisted by firefighters from Detroit Lakes, Vergas and Perham, Nelson said.
"I spoke to the homeowner on scene," he said, "and we got them set up with the Red Cross right away, so the Red Cross came to the scene and assisted the family, and got them set up in hotels and stuff like that."
The family is staying at a hotel in Detroit Lakes, Krejce said, while they figure out their next step.
Krejce said the family did not have insurance for the home because it was "too old and nobody would insure it."
He also said, since the fire, the family received a phone call from someone in the community, who wishes to remain anonymous, who said the family could stay at his vacant home in the area for the next few months until they get back on their feet.
"He saw it on Facebook and he called me," Krejce said. "I get teary-eyed over it, it's just amazing."
Krejce said he wants the community to know that he, and his family, greatly appreciates the outpouring of support from the community.