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Fire destroys townhouse

The residents of a five-unit townhouse complex remain homeless following a Dec. 22 blaze that started as a car fire.

Hudson Fire Chief Jim Frye said Tuesday that all the electrical wiring and natural gas lines in the building need to be inspected before residents can return - and that might not happen for a couple of months.

The electricity and natural gas to the building had to be shut off, Frye said, because all of the lines serving the complex ran through the townhouse gutted by the fire.

Firefighters were called to the townhouse building on Heritage Boulevard in the Heritage Greens development at 11:09 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 22, when flames from a vintage car parked in a basement garage spread to the rest of the structure.

According to Jeff Drabruzzi, assistant chief of the Hudson Fire Department, townhouse resident Richard Dover briefly left his 1960 Chevrolet Biscayne after starting it, and returned to find it on fire.

Dabruzzi said Dover tried to put out the fire with an extinguisher, but didn't succeed, and the flames quickly crawled up the back side of his rented townhouse.

Dover's wife, Gay-Lynne, was inside the three-level, three-bedroom townhouse when the fire started.

Dabruzzi said Gay-Lynne Dover was still inside the household trying to find one or more of the couple's 13 cats when firefighters arrived at the scene.

Mrs. Dover and firefighters were able to remove several of the cats to safety, but at least three were known to have died.

Dabruzzi said his guess was that the fire did about $250,000 in damage to the building. The master bedroom on the top floor of the Dovers' townhouse sustained extensive fire damage and there was smoke and water damage throughout the residence, he said.

"If it wasn't burned, it's black and wet," Dabruzzi said of the Dovers' furnishings.

They were renting the townhouse from Charles Stone of Plymouth, Minn.

An unoccupied townhouse next to the Dovers' also sustained some damage.

A neighbor of the Dovers said they had lived in the newly built townhouse for about 10 months and were in the process of moving.

The River Falls, Lower St. Croix Valley (Minn.), Roberts, St. Joseph and Bayport (Minn.) fire departments assisted Hudson firefighters in putting out the flames. The Hammond department stood by at the Hudson fire station in case another call came in.

Dabruzzi said firefighters were on the scene until 2:20 p.m. Thursday. He didn't know how many of the five units of the building were occupied.

He said it was his understanding that the Dovers had relatives in Hudson.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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