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Firefighter saves woman from burning home in Willmar, Minn.

Willmar firefighters respond Tuesday to a fire at 501 25th Street Southeast in Willmar. When the alarm went out, a firefighter who lives near the home went directly to the house and safely removed a woman from the home, according to Willmar Fire Department Assistant Chief Jeff Gilbertson. There were no injuries reported but the home was extensively damaged, Gilbertson said. At least five fire engines responded to the scene. Also responding was the Willmar Police Department and Willmar Ambulance. No furth...

WILLMAR - The fast actions of a Willmar firefighter are being credited for getting a woman safely out of burning home Tuesday night.

Willmar Fire Chief Marv Calvin said the unidentified woman "could've easily succumbed to the fire" if Craig Baker, a lieutenant with the Willmar Fire Department, hadn't arrived on the scene when he did.

"The outcome wouldn't have been the same," said Calvin, who praised Baker for making an "exemplary" decision and moving fast.

"His actions saved a life last night," said Calvin.

The fire was reported around 9 p.m. Tuesday at 501 25th St. S.E.

Under the current fire department policy, firefighters who live closest go directly to the scene of a fire rather than going to the fire department first.

Baker, who lives nearby, went to the home in his street clothes to size up the situation. He saw flames inside the attached garage that were quickly spreading to the wall of the house and then heard a woman inside the home.

Baker knocked on the door several times, said Calvin. Eventually the woman came to the door but was apparently reluctant to leave and retreated back into the house.

"He went in after her," said Calvin. "He grabbed her and pulled her out."

The woman was handed over to a Willmar police officer who had arrived on the scene.

By the time fire crews arrived six minutes later the fire and smoke had "progressed rather extensively" into the home, said Calvin.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation but Calvin said arson is not suspected.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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