Sheriff's office: 2 children dead after Big Lake house fire, father suspected of starting fire

April 12, 2019 10:09 PM

Two young children have died after a house fire early Friday morning in Big Lake.

The Sherburne County Sheriff's Office said firefighters and police responded to the home on the 19000 block of Karen Lane at about 5:37 a.m.


Upon arrival, officers saw "a large amount of smoke" coming from the house. Officers were able to gain entry to the residence and discovered its residents, including children, were still inside.

Five people, including four children, were rescued from the home, the sheriff's office said. They were taken to the hospital.

Two of the children rescued later died, the sheriff's office said. They were identified as Landon Michael Parker, 2, and Spencer Rae Parker, 1.

Their father, Anthony Robert Parker, 36, was hospitalized, as were two other children, ages 9 and 7. Parker remains in critical condition.

The sheriff's office said investigators believe Parker intentionally set the fire. He's being guarded by investigators while receiving treatment at the hospital.

As neighbors returned home late Friday afternoon, they started to learn what happened.

Jeff Buzzelli lives down the street. His three children are around the same age as the oldest Parker siblings. The school bus picks them all up from in front of his house.

"All I could think about was the children," Buzzelli said. "My children played with those children, with the 9-year-old and 7-year-old quite often."

Millie Lauer lives next door to the tan home. Fire trucks and police officers woke her up Friday morning.

"When I left for work, they had the end of the road blocked off," Lauer said.

When she returned later in the day, she never expected to learn that authorities think their father set the fire.

"Why would he do that with the little kids in there? There were four little kids in that house."

According to the sheriff's office, the State Fire Marshal's Office will issue a final determination on the fire's cause at a later time.

Big Lake Police Chief Joel Scharf released the following statement: 

"This is a tragedy beyond description, please keep the family members in your thoughts and prayers!

"I want to also say, as the Chief of Police, I could not be prouder of the efforts of our public safety personnel in Big Lake/Sherburne County. I watched on body camera, Officers Nic Prigge and Tyler Sinclair, along with Assistant Big Lake Fire Chief Seth Hanson fight in vain to enter the home prior to help arriving, only to be pushed back by smoke. On their arrival, Big Lake Fire and CentraCare Paramedics worked seamlessly to get everyone out of the home.

"I want to extend a sincere thank you to all our public safety partners including; Becker Police, Sherburne County Sheriffs Office, Big Lake Fire, CentraCare EMS, Monticello Fire, Sherburne County Dispatch, and Allina Health Dispatch.

"This is not something in your career you ever expect to see take place, the senselessness of it is beyond comprehension."

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