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Houlton home gutted by fire Thursday morning

A firefighter climbs a ladder to get at the remaining flames of a Thursday morning, Aug. 18, house fire on County Road E in Houlton, a short distance west of Hwy. 35.

A Houlton couple is fortunate to have escaped a fire that gutted their residence Thursday morning.

According to St. Joseph Fire Chief Ron Burton, the man and woman were alerted of the fire by a passing motorist who noticed flames and smoke coming from the house and stopped to pound on the door.

Burton said the St. Croix County dispatcher who took the motorist's 911 call at about 6:30 a.m. could hear him knocking on the door.

The couple had to exit the two-story house through a first-floor side window, the fire chief said.

A cat also jumped to safety from a window, according to a firefighter at the scene. He said the cat was found and returned to its owners.

Burton said he drove directly to the house at 35 County Road E and flames were coming out of the roof when he arrived. The residence is about a half-block west of Hwy. 35 and the B & L Liquor Store.

Burton declined to give the names of the residents. An Internet phone directory lists Don J. Frazier as residing there.

The St. Croix Valley chapter of the American Red Cross has provided temporary lodging for the couple.

Anne McNamara, emergency services director for the chapter, said three Red Cross volunteers responded to the fire and also provided the couple with food, clothing and shoes.

Christopher Bauer of Houlton owns the older, wood-frame house.

The house is still standing, but it sustained heavy fire, smoke and water damage.

Burton said he thought the house is a total loss.

Firefighters from four departments - Town of St. Joseph, Stillwater, Minn., Hudson and Somerset - fought the blaze for about three hours.

Burton said they were able to bring the fire under control within an hour, but it took a couple of hours to put out spot fires in the ceilings and the walls. The blaze had progressed too far for firefighters to battle it from inside the house initially.

Burton was still at the residence when he returned a call from the Star-Observer at 12:30 p.m. He was waiting for a fire investigator to arrive.

He said the cause of the fire hadn't been determined yet.

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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