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Faulty bathroom fan suspected of starting house fire

Hudson firefighters enter the front door of the Jim and Connie Root residence at 1725 Cudd Circle to assist in putting out the flames in the attic. The fire department was dispatched to the house just before 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13.2 / 2

A faulty bathroom fan is the suspected cause of a fire Monday evening at the Jim and Connie Root residence in the city of Hudson.

The Hudson Fire Department was dispatched to the two-story house at 1725 Cudd Circle just before 7 p.m., after a passing motorist noticed smoke and flames coming from the roof.

Hudson Fire Chief Jim Frye said the passerby, perhaps a neighbor, used a hose at the residence to shoot water onto the flames until the fire department arrived. The man's actions helped to contain the flames, Frye said.

A neighbor at the scene said the Roots had been in Pepin, and were driving back to Hudson as the fire department worked to put out the fire.

The neighbor also said the fire department rescued the Roots' two dogs and a cat from a lower level of the house. She said the pets were unharmed.

Frye said the Roots' son was in the house when the fire started above a second-floor bathroom. He was unaware of the flames until the passerby stopped, however.

The fire chief estimated the damage to the home at $75,000. He said the fire damage was contained to the attic and roof, but firefighters had to tear down the bathroom ceiling to attack the flames and make sure they were out.

There was also some smoke damage throughout the house, and water damage on the second floor, Frye said.

The chief said he couldn't prove that the bathroom fan started the fire, but that the heaviest charring of wood was in the area of the fan, leading him to suspect it as the cause.

The flames traveled upward through the rafters, burning the hole in the roof, Frye said.

He said the Roots won't be able to occupy the house until the electrical power is restored, at the earliest. He guessed that it could take a couple of months to make the home habitable again.

Connie Root is an instrumental music teacher and band director at Hudson Middle School.