Nine-year-old girl rescued from basement in St. Paul house fire

  • Article by: NICOLE NORFLEET , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 17, 2014 - 11:15 PM

Firefighters found her next to a bed in a basement room in Dayton’s Bluff home. She is expected to survive.

A 9-year-old girl was rescued Monday from a fire in her St. Paul home.

The fire broke out in the basement of a house on the 300 block of Maple Street in Dayton’s Bluff at 10:44 a.m., said St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard.

Monday’s rescue came three days after a fire in a Minneapolis duplex killed five children. Two other children injured in that fire remain in critical condition; their father remains in satisfactory condition.

Minneapolis fire officials said they had no further information Monday about what caused that blaze, but the Hennepin County medical examiner released the official cause of death for each child. The children — Christopher, 8; Mary, 6; Fannie, 4; Troy, 3; and Gwendolyn, 18 months old — all died from fire-related injuries.

Monday’s St. Paul fire started in the corner of a bedroom where there was no window large enough to allow residents to escape and where there was no smoke alarm, Zaccard said. There were alarms elsewhere in the house, he noted.

Firefighters found the girl next to one of two beds. She was taken to Regions Hospital and is expected to survive.

“It was quite a feat to rescue her as safely as they did,” said Zaccard, who stressed the importance of having two exits in a bedroom.

Last November, a 38-year-old man died in the basement bedroom of his St. Paul home. Zaccard said at that time that the man’s bedroom violated fire codes because it lacked windows that were large enough for an occupant to escape.

Mark Peterson, 51, who lives in the Dayton’s Bluff home where the girl was rescued Monday, said he woke to his stepdaughter running up the stairs and telling him that she smelled smoke.

Peterson said that the family thought his granddaughter, Nevaeh Sellers, 9, had chased a cat to the basement and was still there when the fire broke out. When they tried to rescue her, however, they were met by a wall of smoke.

“We all went down there but we couldn’t get past the steps,” Peterson said. Fortunately, he added, fire crews arrived quickly.

Peterson said extra guests had spent the night after a birthday party for Nevaeh. He added, however, that nobody in the house uses the basement as a bedroom and that Nevaeh doesn’t sleep there.

Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495 Twitter: @stribnorfleet

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