Fire destroys Woodbury home
A Woodbury family of six was left homeless early this week after fire destroyed their house.
No residents or firefighters were hurt in the blaze, which was first reported at 12:08 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, at 8350 Marsh Creek Road.
Woodbury Fire Cmdr. John Wallgren said early indications were that hot ashes disposed of in the family's garage were the cause of the fire. He said residents had used the home's fireplace sometime Saturday, then placed the ashes in the garage.
By the time they arrived, firefighters found the garage fully engulfed in flames and fire spreading to other portions of the house. Crews from Cottage Grove, Maplewood, Oakdale, Lake Elmo and Lower St. Croix Valley also responded.
"This was a manually intensive fire," Wallgren said.
Firefighters attacked the flames from inside and out, but crews were pulled out of the burning house as it erupted in flames.
"We immediately went defensive," Wallgren said.
The home was a total loss, he said. According to Washington County tax records, the home - valued in 2012 at $439,000 - was owned by Raymond and Shalene Kennedy. Wallgren said residents included four children.
Neighboring homes were also threatened by the flames, he said.
It appeared the fire began in the garage, Wallgren said.
Though investigators will continue to pinpoint the official cause of the fire, Wallgren cautioned others who will be handling hot ashes from fireplaces and fire pits as temperatures continue to drop.
"We have a fire like this almost every year because of improper disposal of ashes," he said.
He said ashes should be disposed of in a metal canister somewhere outside homes. Residents should wait up to four days for them to cool, Wallgren added.
"A lot of people don't know that," he said.
Sunday's fire was the second this year investigated for improper disposal of ashes. Woodbury firefighters responded in February to a Cypress Drive townhome fire, where hot ashes were suspected as the culprit.
Wallgren said residents should consider installing smoke detectors in garages. In Sunday's fire, the residents reported a smell of smoke an hour before the first 911 call came in reporting flames.