Investigating the house fire - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

Investigating the house fire

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Claremont, MN (KTTC) --

A major fire took down an entire house and sent one man to the hospital by Mayo One. The fire happened around 6:45 Sunday night in Claremont. The first responder was on scene roughly five minutes after the call came in, but the house was already engulfed.

We learned Monday that the fire is likely an accident. Statements made last night lead the Fire Marshal to believe the home owner was smoking, when he fell asleep with a lit cigarette.

One man is lucky for his life after escaping from this massive farm house fire...

"It's not a typical house fire, no."

Thanks to neighbors who saw the flames and found the man trying to stay warm outside.

"They got him warmed up, got him into a vehicle."

That man is 51-year-old David Chicos. He was taken by Mayo one helicopter to Regents hospital in St. Paul. Chicos' injuries are likely from his escape attempt out of his burning house.

"He had some cuts and lacerations on his legs and he escaped from the house and was able to get out. Because we didn't know if he had smoke inhalation or not, we called Mayo One and they took him from there," says Dodge county Chief Deputy Mike Leonhardt.

As for Chicos' house, it went up in smoke. And an explosively hot fire did little to help battle the brutal cold fire fighters had to face.

"It's a tough job out there."

Three volunteer fire departments responded, rotating shifts just to stay warm.

"The extreme cold is extremely hard on the fire fighters, and they're the guys battling it in these elements. The wind is also a big factor here," explains Mark Dyshaw, the Dodge county Deputy Sheriff.

A charred mess is all that remains from this two-story farm house after fire fighters spent hours in brutally cold temperatures trying to fight it. After investigating what's of the house, the Fire Marshal said the severe damage didn't leave a lot to work with, but he believes the fire may have started after Chicos fell asleep with a lit cigarette.

The Fire Marshal is waiting to speak to Chicos to confirm some details. Chicos remains in the hospital in good condition.

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