Willmar family left homeless after fire destroys mobile home at Regency West
WILLMAR -- A Willmar family was left homeless after fire destroyed their mobile home Sunday morning in the Regency West mobile home park. A preliminary investigation has found the fire may have been started by a youngster who was home alone. Whil...
WILLMAR -- A Willmar family was left homeless after fire destroyed their mobile home Sunday morning in the Regency West mobile home park.
A preliminary investigation has found the fire may have been started by a youngster who was home alone.
While the child's mother and two younger siblings were gone on shopping errands, the 7-year-old apparently "began experimenting with a lighter and paper towels," said Rick Kleinschmidt of the Willmar Police Department.
The fire is still under investigation by local authorities. The state fire marshal's office also was called in.
The 7-year-old wasn't injured but was forced to flee barefoot from the burning trailer, Kleinschmidt said.
Temperatures were below zero all day Sunday.
The fire broke out at around 11:15 a.m. and spread rapidly. By the time fire trucks reached the west edge of town, "we saw lots of black smoke," said Wally Klause, deputy chief for the Willmar Fire Department.
The mobile home was engulfed when firefighters arrived.
The frigid cold did not hamper firefighters' efforts -- but the situation could have been worse if it had been windy, Klause noted.
"The wind was down this morning," he said.
It took almost two hours to bring the fire under control. Firefighters were called back to the scene at 2:45 p.m. when the blaze flared up again.
The Red Cross was contacted to help the family find temporary housing, Klause said.
Willmar Police issued a reminder to residents to take fire-safety precautions. All homes should have smoke detectors with functioning batteries that are checked on a regular basis, Kleinschmidt said.
Families should have a fire plan for how to safely exit their home in case of fire, he said. Matches, lighters and other ignition tools also should be kept out of the reach of children.