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Family escapes early morning fire; fire chief calls blaze "suspicious"

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Fire and Police departments, along with the state fire marshal, are investigating the cause of a garage and house fire early this morning in Willmar.

According to Willmar Fire Chief Marv Calvin, the fire was reported around 3:30 a.m. this morning and began in the garage of the Aaron and Sarah Minnick home at 1212 Ninth St. S.E.

"There are reasons to believe it is suspicious," Calvin said, but added that officials are not calling the fire as arson at this time.

Anyone with information about activity this morning in that neighborhood, which is just south of the Bethesda Pleasantview facility, is urged to call the police at 235-2244 or the state arson hotline at 1-800-723-2020.

Calvin also urges citizens to test their smoke detectors. The family was saved from the fire because their smoke detectors were working and alerted them to the blaze, he said.

The home is not inhabitable, with the garage a total loss and the home sustaining smoke and water damage, Calvin said. The family is staying with relatives.