St. Paul mom, 5 kids flee raging house fire started when heater ignited child's bed

  • Article by: Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 7, 2011 - 8:53 PM
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Firefighters were able to keep a fire at 1067 Wilson Av. in St. Paul from spreading. All six family members who were home were able to escape, but the rental house and their belongings were ruined.

Photo: St. Paul Fire Department

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Sparks flew from an electric heater late Wednesday and ignited a St. Paul child's bed, sending a mother and her five children fleeing for their lives from the raging flames.

The blaze broke out about 11 p.m. in the 1000 block of Wilson Av. in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood, according to the St. Paul Fire Department.

The only injury was a small burn to the finger of the 7-year-old girl who was plugging in the heater when it sparked, said Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard.

According to the fire marshal:

The mother called 911 to report the fire, gathered up her children -- ages 3 to 14 -- and fled the burning home. At the same time, the father, Tik Soukchaleum, was returning from work. He fought the blaze in vain with a fire extinguisher.

Arriving firefighters found the single-story home engulfed in flames and threatening a neighboring house, but they quickly put out the fire before it could spread.

Damage is estimated at $100,000 to the $114,000 home and another $20,000 to the contents, Zaccard said.

"They have lost virtually everything, and the Red Cross put them up," Zaccard said.

The home, which is a rental, did not have an automated sprinkler system and was not required to have one, he said. There were smoke detectors in the house but it was not immediately known whether they were working at the time.

PAUL WALSH

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