Home owner sent to hospital after suspicious house fire - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

Home owner sent to hospital after suspicious house fire

ROCHESTER, MN (FOX 47) -- A Rochester house fire Sunday night left a home in ruins and the homeowner in the hospital. Fire department investigators have been on the scene all day and are calling the fire suspicious.

Sunday night at 8:45, firefighters got a call of a house on fire on the 900 Block of 17th Avenue Southwest. When fire fighters got there, they found a woman on her lawn covered with soot and smoke, and flames shooting out of her bedroom window.

"We'd seen smoke and flames coming out of the main room, and we're going, 'Oh my God, where's Amy," exclaims neighbor Beverly Hovey.

Thankfully, the homeowner, Amy Lechner, made it out of the house alive, but she was taken to Saint Marys Hospital for smoke inhalation.

"She was full of a lot of soot, so you know darn well she went on in and tried to do the best she could," Hovey continues.

Hovey says Lechner had come back from watching the Viking/Packer game and saw her house on fire. But not everyone was out of the house.

"She went back in, I believe to go down to the basement to get her tenant out; to let him know that there was a fire. Then she realized her cat was not coming out, so she went back in and got her cat out. And I think that's where she might have got a lot of smoke in her lungs."

Lechner's tenant, Pete Schneekloth, says he was just getting ready for bed, and if it wasn't for Lechner, he wouldn't have known about the fire. Schneekloth says his belongings in the basement have smoke damage, but the upstairs is completely ruined.

The Rochester Fire Department says estimates of property damage is roughly $50,000, and $10,000 worth of content damage. Currently, the Fire Department is calling the fire suspicious.

"That just means that we aren't able to determine specifically what caused the fire, and potentially, there are some circumstances that lead it to that it could be suspicious. But we haven't ruled out all possibilities that it's accidental until the investigation has been completed," explains Lyle Felsch, Deputy Chief of the Rochester Fire Department.

Felsch says they do know the fire began in the bedroom and that firefighters had the fire under control within an hour. Six fire engine with 19 firefighters responded.

One problem firefighters ran into was the street in front of the house was reduced to a one-way street because of the Highway 52 project. Felsch says the narrow street caused a few headaches for the engine drivers. They had to rotate the engines in and out, one by one, the whole time.

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