Four pets die in Albert Lea house fire

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 8:25 AM CST
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ALBERT LEA, Minn. (KTTC) – Albert Lea Fire Rescue and Police Department were dispatched at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23, to a house fire in Albert Lea located at 203 Giles Place.

Upon arrival, fire crews found the occupants outside of the home with smoke coming from the west side of the house. The occupants said they had returned home, after being away for about four hours, to find thick black smoke coming from the home.

The occupants of the house were able to retrieve one dog, but two dogs and one cat remained in the home. They opened the doors to let out the remaining pets, but none came out.

Fire crews entered the home to extinguish the blaze and locate the remaining pets. Despite firefighters and a homeowner attempting resuscitation of two dogs, all four pets died from smoke inhalation. No other injuries were reported.

Fire crews remained on scene for about two hours. The fire was contained to the kitchen area with extensive smoke damage throughout the home.

Preliminary findings by Albert Lea Fire Rescue point to batteries charging in the kitchen area as the cause of the fire. The batteries failed during charging and started on fire.

“It’s not an uncommon thing,” Albert Lea Deputy Fire Department Deputy Chief Jeff Laskowske said. “We’re having more and more issues during charging, having issues with them breaking, exploding and catching on fire.”

Laskowske said people need to use caution with anything that requires charging, including cell phones.

“Only charge them when you’re present at home,” he said. “Have them outside, not in the home space. Have them out in the garage area, and only have them on there when they’re charging. When they’re done charging, take them off the charger don’t leave them charging for an extended period of time.”

Damages are estimated at $50,000. The residents have secured alternative housing.

Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service also responded.

The Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office will assist with the investigation.