The early-morning blaze, spotted by a motorist, had nearly engulfed the two-story home, hampering fire crews.
A house piled inside with newspapers, clothing and other items caught fire in the woods of northeastern Anoka County early Wednesday, killing a man who authorities believe was the home's lone resident.
The fire in Linwood Township, reported by a motorist, destroyed the two-story house that stood on 10 acres near 238th Avenue and Lyons Street NE.
Firefighters from the Linwood Fire Department arrived at 3:50 a.m. but couldn't gain access because the blaze had already consumed the back of the house and the rest was in flames, said Chief Darryl Ballman. They fought the fire from the outside.
The man's body was found in the collapsed remains at about 9:25 a.m., Ballman said.
The victim's identity has not been released, pending notification of relatives. "We have no reason to believe the body is anybody other than the home's occupant," said Anoka County Sheriff's Cmdr. Paul Sommer.
The house was stacked full of newspapers, magazines, cassette tapes and piles of clothing that blocked windows and other points of access, making the search and rescue effort very difficult, Ballman said.
Heavy equipment was used during the search to move debris that had collapsed into the basement.
Township Clerk Judy Hanna said a 60-year-old man lived there by himself.
Neighbors said the resident seemed to keep largely to himself. One, Amy Anderson, said she hadn't seen him in several years. Another said he had thought the house was abandoned.
Jason Westlund, who lives next door, said he remembered a tree falling on the house more than a year ago, damaging the second story, but no one came to remove the tree or fix the hole on the roof.
Ballman said that the fire appeared to start in the back of the house. The cause has yet to be determined, he said, but is not considered suspicious.
Star Tribune staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report. Kris Hernandez • 612-673-4217