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State Fire Marshal John Steinbach examines rubble Tuesday at a two-story home destroyed in a fire Monday near Spicer. An occupant of the home, David Lindner, 70, was hospitalized with burns. The fire is under investigation, though foul play isn't suspected. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

Man hospitalized after fire at Spicer, Minn., home

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

SPICER -- State Fire Marshal John Steinbach sifted through charred debris of a rural Spicer home Tuesday searching for clues to how a fire started Monday night that left three people homeless -- and one of them in critical condition at a metro burn center.

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Foul play is not suspected but Steinbach said it could take weeks before the cause of the blaze is determined.

According to reports from fire and law enforcement officials, the injured man is David Lindner, 70, a roommate of the homeowner. Spicer Fire Chief Mike Holme said Lindner was reported to have severe burns to his arms, hands and face. He was taken Monday night by New London Ambulance to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar and then transferred to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis where he was listed in critical condition Tuesday in the HCMC burn unit.

Holme said homeowner Stephen Sarafolean, 52, and his girlfriend, Sandra Jane Davis, 56, escaped the fire by jumping from a second floor window, but they were not injured.

The fire was reported at 9:30 p.m. Monday at 4317 133rd Ave. N.E, west of Spicer near Nest Lake.

Fueled by strong southerly winds that gusted to 25 to 30 mph, the house was engulfed in flames by the time crews arrived, according to Holme.

"The whole house is a loss," he said.

The fast-moving fire left little time for the occupants to respond.

According to Holme, Sarafolean and Davis were in the upstairs loft of the house when they smelled smoke. Thinking it was a campfire next door, they closed the windows.

When the smell persisted, they opened the upstairs bedroom door to investigate and a "big flash of flames" erupted from the main floor of the home to the upper level, said Holme.

The fire "hit a backdraft and flames shot up the steps," which blocked the couple's exit from the house.

Sarafolean reportedly lowered Davis out the window and she fell about 10 feet to the ground.

Sarafolean then "shimmied" out the window to the ground where he saw Lindner lying on the deck, Holme said.

Lindner reportedly exited the house through a doorway that was engulfed in flames.

The scorched framework of the house is still standing but the building was gutted and all the contents of the home were destroyed.

Holme said he believed Sarafolean and Davis were staying with friends.

A dog also died in the blaze.

The Spicer Fire Department, New London Fire Department, Kandiyohi County Rescue Squad, Spicer First Responders, New London Ambulance and Willmar Ambulance responded to the scene.

Crews were on the scene for about three hours.

A few Spicer firefighters returned to the scene Tuesday morning to deal with a small flare-up.

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