By Reg Chapman

By Reg Chapman, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two women have died in a house fire on 3616 S. Elliot St., according to fire officials.

Minneapolis Fire Chief Alex Jackson said around 1:36 a.m., the first responding crew got stuck in the snow, about a quarter of a block away from the scene of the fire. Jackson said it’s the worst possible weather conditions to fight a fire.

Though the first engine was stuck, a second fire engine arrived minutes later and a third was dispatched as a substitute for the stuck crew. The first engine had to be pulled out by tow truck.

Meanwhile, the house burned quickly and four people who made it out alive jumped to safety from the roof of the porch.

“I’m looking at the house and I can’t believe it,” said Arthur Kennedy, nephew of the victim.

Arthur Kennedy says he and his cousins basically grew up in the house that his aunt owned. He said Mary Francis Rowe passed away when fire swept through the house she lived in for decades. Relatives and friends were inside with her all scrambled for exits when flames invaded the two-story home.

When fire crews got equipment to the house, there was smoke coming out of the home from the second floor.

Firefighters said they knew they needed to do a search and rescue for the residents in the home, but the fire became so dangerous they were forced to approach it defensively.

Three people were rescued from the second floor porch and all three were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center.

Another person escaped the fire and was at a neighboring home. They were also taken to HCMC.

Neighbor Jay Reeves watched as Rowe’s son cried out for help.

“When he stood on that roof, he didn’t have no clothes on and he was hollering, asking somebody to get his mother. I just told him to jump because the fire started shooting out the window and all the smoke and everything and he just jumped,” Reeves said.

Fire crews were initially informed that there were possibly eight people living in the home. Firefighters attempted to find those who were unaccounted for, however were forced to evacuate after conditions became too dangerous.

In addition to Rowe, the body of the other woman was found later by fire officials. Officials are not sure if the two were on the first or second floor.

Family looking around on Sunday afternoon could not help but notice the condition of the street. Large snow drifts, cars parked on both sides, and imprints left behind from where the first fire engine got stuck.

“It totally hindered fire fighters. They weren’t able to be there to save my auntie and now we’re a family that’s grieving over someone that was the matriarch of our family,” said nephew Steve Wilson.

Firefighter John Schroeder was not at this particular fire but knows firsthand how hard it is to navigate a big rig down narrow, unplowed and cluttered side streets. Schroeder said everyone has to work together to clear the road so fire, EMS and police can get through to help those in need.

Minneapolis Fire Chief Alex Jackson extended his deepest condolences to the families of those involved. He said these are the worst possible conditions to fight a fire, and fire fighters did an excellent job in extremely dangerous conditions.

Crews were on scene until about 6 a.m. Sunday. No firefighters were injured in the fire and it is currently under investigation.

WCCO-TV’s Reg Chapman  Reports

Comments (11)
  1. Darren says:

    Always said to hear about this. To help the firefighters out. Please make sure that your neighborhoods fire hydrants are not blocked or covered in snow. You can imagine how long it would take for a firefighter to have to start shoveling that out if they needed to use it. Every minute counts in a fire. Help them out, shovel out your fire hydrants.

  2. Ricky Barrett says:

    gosh….. so sad ;( but people do have to make sure that thier fire hydrants are uncoverd… would if that becomes thier house

  3. MarkoT says:

    helps always if folks also leave some room and move cars so they can keep the roads open at least enough for a single emergancy vehicle at a time.

    Tragic …. shovel the hydrants near you, abide by any parking restrictions, and pray for the lost. Not much more you can do. The firefighters are incredible folks and braver than hell….any help we can do is appreciated.

  4. Todd says:

    they need to learn how to plow the streets, up to the curb !!
    get the plows down the streets of fires before the fire dept get’s there

    1. Todd Ranger says:

      Todd – you are a bozo. Let’s see – someone calls 911. First the dispatcher calls in the tow trucks because you want the street plowed to the curb – cars can park there correct? So we need to get the cars away from the curb. Then the dispatcher calls in the snowplows. Finally, the dispatcher calls the fire and rescue crews. Based on your mentality (or lack of) the other 6 would have died, too. Rather apparent to see what is wrong with our world today.

      1. clarence says:

        HMMM….Sounds like a lengthly process or something like that.

  5. kel says:

    Public works did a great job helping out in St. Paul last night. I have no idea how it went in Minneapolis, but please don’t start laying blame. The conditions last night were awful, and too many people were out “checking out the streets”.

    What I’d like to point out is that minutes, even seconds count when there is a structure fire. It is a situation that wouldn’t have changed because of the storm, but a great way to illustrate the point that Minneapolis needs to stick up for their fire department. Get behind MFD and help them get full funding to keep the public and themselves safe!

  6. clarence says:

    The plow truck drivers should put-out the fires and stuff like that. They should also shovel the snow around the hydrants and stuff like that as the firefighters trucks can’t always drive through the snow & stuff like that. Then, if the firefighters truck gets stuck in the snow, they should also pull out the firetruck out of the snow too, (and stuff like that). Of course, it’s the plow truck drivers fault that there are fires and the firefighters can’t get through-and stuff like that.

  7. J says:

    I live in So Minneapolis. Yesterday was one of the worst snow falls we have had since 1991(October) I don’t think you guys that posted about the fire hydrants even know what you are talking about. OK shovel the snow from around the hydrants and put it where? snow was everywhere.

  8. Joe says:

    @J “OK shovel the snow from around the hydrants and put it where? snow was everywhere.” Gee, let me put on my rocket science hat to answer your question! Take a shovel, scoop the snow away from the hydrant, and pile it a few feet to one side right there on the boulevard. Was that so hard?

  9. LOVE says:

    Jesus calls his children home! sometimes before man think he should!!!

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