A married couple killed Sunday night in a house fire in New Ulm have been identified as David G. Gulden, 68, and Marlene A. Gulden, 54.

Firefighters found the couple on the first floor of their rambler-style house on Cottonwood Street and took them to New Ulm Medical Center, where they died about an hour later. Crews were able to reach the couple within 10 minutes of arriving on the scene around 7 p.m.

Hospital staffers told family members the cause of death was probably smoke inhalation, said Richard Gulden, David Gulden's brother. An autopsy was to be performed Tuesday, he said.

David Gulden was a retired New Ulm police officer who was with the department from 1968 to 1988. The couple had six children from previous marriages, ranging in age from mid-20s to late-40s. None lived at home.

Sharon Gulden, Richard Gulden's wife, said she suspects the couple were trying to save their three cats and two dogs. "If a fire broke out, I'm sure they were trying to get the animals out."

The blaze is believed to have started in the garage. At one point, the garage was engulfed in flames and the rest of the home was filled with smoke, said Jeremy Reed, a New Ulm police investigator. There were no vehicles in the garage at the time. Although the circumstances are unusual, officials do not suspect arson, Reed said.

The couple had no medical conditions that would have prevented them from getting out of the house, said Richard and Sharon Gulden.

One victim was found in the kitchen and the other in another room. The investigation continues, said New Ulm Fire Marshal Ellwood Zabel.

Emergency vehicles got stuck in snow that had accumulated on the home's narrow, one-lane driveway, causing an hourlong delay in efforts to control the blaze, said New Ulm Fire Chief Paul Macho. But those problems did not delay efforts to get the couple out of the home and to the hospital, he said.

In another house fire, two residents were killed Monday morning in a blaze in Roseau, Minn., bringing the number of statewide fire fatalities this year to eight, twice as many as at this time in 2009. The Roseau victims had not been identified Monday night. The fire is being investigated by the state fire marshal and the area sheriff's office.

Tara Bannow is a U of M journalism student on assignment for the Star Tribune.