‘I knew it was fire instantly’
Daniel Reese was working in his home office in Owatonna late Thursday morning when his wife, Sandra, texted him to come over to another part of the house immediately.
He thought maybe there were some deer in the back yard like often happens, but Sandra was hearing strange noises coming from the upper part of the house. As soon as Daniel heard the noise, he knew it was trouble.
“I heard a crackling,” said Reese. “I knew it was fire instantly.”
The Reeses immediately called 911, woke up their 19-year-old who was sleeping after working overnight and they evacuated their house.
Daniel Reese quickly discovered the chimney portion of the house was on fire.
Firefighters arrived within minutes, but fire had already spread into the attic and heavy smoke had enveloped the entire house.
It took four area fire departments nearly six hours to bring the blaze at 1804 Northbrook Place NE near Mineral Springs Park under control. Firefighters from Owatonna, Medford, Waseca and Faribault battled the fire in sub-zero temperatures, as well as ice all around the scene.
Fire Chief Mike Johnson said firefighters initiated an offensive interior attack on the second floor, but they were quickly forced out of the home as fire advanced rapidly throughout the structure. When the blaze was eventually knocked down from the outside, firefighters re-entered the house to extinguish the fire from the inside.
Johnson said the weather conditions were a hazard in battling the fire. “Firefighters are trained to operate in extreme cold weather operations and all departments worked well together to extinguish the fire,” he said.
Mayo Ambulance was on the scene to evaluate fire personnel operating in the cold conditions. No one was injured in the fire, but two firefighters were released from the scene for non-fire related illness, according to Johnson.
While a few areas of the house were left untouched, most of the house suffered extensive damage.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but Reese is certain it has something to do with the encasement around the chimney.
“It’s a charred mess,” Reese said of the home he has lived in since 2005. “It’s pretty devastating. Just a shock.”
The house was built in 1988.
As firefighters battled the blaze, Reese watched in horror and prayed with his pastor from Christian Family Church in a warm vehicle.
“I’m so thankful it wasn’t at night when the chances of injury are much greater,” said Reese. “I’m very thankful that it happened during daylight.”
He said going through a fire produces a “wave of emotions” that can blindside you at any moment. “Emotions you didn’t know you had,” Reese said.
Reese is appreciative of the firefighters who risked their lives to put out the fire. “They were amazing,” he said. “We are very grateful to them.”
The family is staying at the house of Daniel’s parents, who are currently wintering in the south.
Reese said “tons of people” have reached out to them since the fire. Included in that group is his church, which had a special offering on Sunday to help the Reese family.
“I was just blown away by the support. You get to know who your friends are when there is trouble,” Reese said. “I’m used to helping people. It feels foreign to me (to receive help). It’s wonderful to receive all their kindness.”
Reese, who operates his own real estate company, isn’t certain what will happen with the house or if they will even stay in the same neighborhood.