Passerby rescues 78-year-old woman from burning Wisconsin home |

Passerby rescues 78-year-old woman from burning Wisconsin home

Brett Hoffland
Updated: November 19, 2021 09:01 PM
Created: November 19, 2021 04:16 PM

A Wisconsin family is thankful for the selfless act of one man who saved a 78-year-old woman from her burning home.

It happened the night of Nov. 10, in the 2100 block off Highway 64 in rural New Richmond just before 10 p.m. 

"There was nobody really out on the road and I look over and see a house on fire," said Lee Bottem, who is from Edina and helped rescue the woman from a burning house. 

Lee Bottem said he was driving to his cabin that night when he passed the burning house on Highway 64 and his instincts kicked in.

"I gotta find out if anyone is inside the house, it was pitch black and yeah I just started pounding on the door," Bottem said. 

Inside the home was a sleeping 78-year-old woman named Bernice. 

"The house was full of smoke. It was a really bad situation," Bottem said.

Through the rubble, flames and smoke, Bottem carried Bernice to safety. Despite the stress and confusion, there was a light moment between the two. 

"She said 'don't break my door' and I said 'oh I got to break your door,'" Bottem said. 

The Deer Park Fire Department said the initial call came in as a fully engulfed garage fire. Bernice's room was on the opposite side of the garage, likely buying more time for her to be rescued. 

"We're real happy that he stopped, I'm sure he's the one who called 911, and who knows if he wouldn't have been there where we would be right now," said Dave Goodrich, Bernice's son.

All things considered, Dave Goodrich said his mother is just fine and living somewhere else as investigators try to figure out what caused this to happen. 

"We're thankful with the guy that helped my mom out and the local fire department that came out and everyone that's helped through this little tragedy that we experienced," Goodrich said. 

Many of the family memories were saved, but all of this is a simple reminder for these strangers of the good that can come passing by on any given day.

"I hope that most people would have done the same thing," Bottem said. 

The Deer Park Fire Department was assisted by the New Richmond Fire Department and United Fire (Baldwin Station).

Copyright 2021 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

Afghan refugees moving to MN, support needed for families

Cruise ship changes course after US judge orders seizure

Stillwater community celebrates world snow sculpting championship

US draws down Ukraine embassy presence as war fears mount

St. Paul neighbors respond to recent violence, some say they no longer feel safe

Liquor store employee shot in St. Paul Sunday afternoon, police investigating