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The fire appears to have started in the area of bathrooms at the back of two of the townhouses. The flames burned a hole in the roof and went through the back exterior wall of the building.

UPDATE: Fire damages Hunter Hill townhouse complex on New Year's Eve

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news River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

A fire the morning of New Year's Eve has displaced the residents of two townhouses in the city of Hudson.

Firefighters were dispatched to the homes at 533 and 535 Hunter Hill Road after a resident of one of the townhouses was awakened by a smoke alarm.

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Ann Martinson, who owns the four-plex with her husband, Paul, said the young man opened a bathroom door and smoke billowed out. The bathroom fan had fallen from the burning ceiling, she said.

Martinson suspects the ceiling fan in the bathroom of the residence at 535 Hunter Hill Road of causing the fire. Phone directories list Jennifer L. Johnson as residing there.

The Hudson Fire Department was dispatched to the scene at 9:50 a.m.

Flames were seen coming from the roof of building within a few minutes of the fire being reported, according to Miranda Kustrich, the fire department's administrative assistant.

The town of St. Joseph and Lower St. Croix Valley fire departments assisted the Hudson department at the scene. River Falls firefighters stood by at the Hudson station in case another call came in while the Hudson firefighters were busy.

Firefighters brought the blaze under control within 45 minutes.

Kustrich said they worked for another hour after that, tearing holes in walls to make sure there were no remaining embers.

The majority of fire damage occurred in a wall separating the bathrooms of the two townhouse units. The fire also burned a hole in the roof above the bathrooms, and through the exterior wall.

In addition, the units sustained significant smoke and water damage, according to Kustrich.

Jodi Colbeth, whose late father Donald Colbeth was Hudson firefighter for 37 years, lived in the townhouse at 533 Hunter Hill Road.

Colbeth was at work at Health East in St. Paul when the fire started.

Ann Martinson said both of the damaged townhouses are uninhabitable for now. She expects it to take five to six months to repair them.

She said Colbeth and the Johnson household are looking for temporary housing. Colbeth currently is staying with her mother, also a resident of the Hunter Hill neighborhood.

The American Red Cross reported that it assisted three adults and one child displaced by the fire.

The two other townhouses in the four-plex weren't damaged.

The townhouses are located on a cul-de-sac west of Wisconsin Street and St. Patrick Catholic Church. The townhouse neighborhood is south of Hudson High School.

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