St. Paul fire: 'Tough night' for family, community after 1 found dead in house fire

January 06, 2019 10:17 PM

St. Paul Fire Department is investigating a fire that left one person dead early Sunday morning.

Firefighters got the call around midnight that a family was trapped in an upstairs unit of the Etna Woods Townhomes on the city's east side. 


"When I took a first look at the building, I felt hurt and really nervous about it," said Eugene Perkins, who witnessed the aftermath. "I couldn't feel any worse than if it had been my own flesh and blood."

RELATED: 1 dead after St. Paul house fire

Assistant Fire Chief Mike Gaede said they were able to get to the scene in less than three minutes because one of their firehouses is just a few blocks away.

Gaede told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS flames had taken over a staircase and the family was trying to jump out of second-story windows to escape.

The father had already jumped by the time crews arrived and then tried to catch his nine-year-old son, who also jumped out of a window. Neither was hurt.

Firefighters then climbed into the burning building to rescue the mother and three more kids: a one-year-old, three-year-old and eight-year-old.

While continuing to battle the flames and search the building, firefighters found a man's body on the second floor.

"We feel extremely bad for the family," said Gaede. "It's a tough night for them, it's a tough night for our firefighters and the whole community is going to feel this one."

Fire investigators are now looking into exactly what happened.

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner is expected to perform an autopsy Sunday to determine the victim's identity and cause of death.

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