December 29, 2017 06:48 PM
At least 8 people in Minnesota and Wisconsin have died in fires since Tuesday.
Seven of those people were in Minnesota, killed in fires from from every corner of the state.
The latest victim died in a fire in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin where KSTP learned it could have been more deadly had it not been for fast-acting neighbors like Josh Walker.
"I pushed the door open and then there's already smoke and flames kind of hitting me in the face," he said, as he recalled Friday's early morning hours.
That door is now a mere frame after a fire gutted the home on North Washington Street that claimed the one life inside.
"I'm really shocked," he said. "I mean, there was a man just living here and now he ain't here anymor. I don't know if I could have done anything more to change that."
Walker woke up around 5:30 a.m. and smelled smoke. At first, he thought it could be coming from his unit. He soon realized the fire was nextdoor.
"I was banging on the door," he said. "As hard as I could, I was banging."
When there was no answer, Walker called 911.
He says the fire took over the home so quickly the only thing he could do was warn others in nearby units to wake up and get out.
"The responder on the phone was guiding me through everything as well," he said.
Too humble to hear the word 'hero', Walker willingly accepted the hugs his neighbors gave him as they thanked him for his help.
"I've got good neighbors and they're making sure I've got clothes on my back," he said.
Following the fire, his home is unlivable.
The Wisconsin Fire Marshal is working to figure out the cause. In the meantime, Walker is vowing to pay attention to the seemingly little things moving forward.
"I did not hear my smoke detector go off one time and that was my fault," he said. "I didn't do my yearly checks."
Numbers from the Minnesota State Fire Marshal show this will be the deadliest year for fires since at least 2002.
More than 60 people have lost their lives so far this year.
The Department of Public Safety says most home fires happen during the winter months and peak in January.
Updated: December 29, 2017 06:48 PM
Created: December 29, 2017 05:57 PM
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