Displaced residents pick up pieces after fire in Chatfield

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 5:48 PM CST
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CHATFIELD, Minn. (KTTC) – Multiple families were displaced early Sunday morning after a fire tore through their apartment complex in Chatfield. Now, they are picking up the pieces.

Joe Hintz and Melinda Rivera were in the midst of all the chaos Sunday when the fire broke out. They have lived in the complex for a little more than a year.

“I literally saw the whole entire front end on fire,” Joe Hintz said. “Everything was on fire, and it was all falling down in front of our door. I just thought we need to get out and make sure everyone is safe and accounted for.”

A woman who lives in one of apartments was the first to notice the blaze. She reportedly jumped out of her second-story window then alerted the other residents. Her uncle Ray Manuel lived in the complex, too.

“I remember my niece waking me up at 12:30 in the morning, saying her apartment was on fire,” Manuel said. “And I came down here, shorts only underwear, that was it.”

Melinda and Joe said they are happy that everyone made it out safely, but one of their dogs ran away in the midst of the commotion.

“We got all of the animals out, my two little ones, I have a Chihuahua named Dixie and a Yorkie-Chihuahua named Pikachu,” Rivera said. “And then Barbara is the one who got loose and took off.”

Hintz and Rivera said the support from community has been unbelievable.

“I can only spend a minute or two on Facebook at a time,” Rivera said. “Because it’s like I get on there and I see all these notifications and it overwhelms me. These people I have never met in my life, trying to help us. And offering help and trying to find my dog it’s like yeah, we lost everything, but if I could just get my dog back, everything else can be replaced.”

The woman who alerted everyone reportedly had two dogs that died in the fire.

According to authorities, the cause of the fire is still under investigation. The displaced residents are staying in hotels and with family members until other more permanent arrangements can be made.

To help the families, click here.