HAM LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — Fire investigators have released the cause of a weekend fire that killed an elderly couple in Ham Lake.

Authorities determined the fire that killed Wally and Helen Erhnreiter, both 93, was a chimney fire from a wood burning insert that was used as a supplemental heat for the home.

Lt. Paul Sommer with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said the age of the flue and the chimney were the factors of the deteriorated system which caused the fire. He said the chimney fire spread quickly, overtaking the home.

Fire crews were called to the fire around 8:30 p.m. Friday at the home on the 3500 block of Crosstown Blvd. Northeast.

The fire was so intense that firefighters couldn’t get inside until several hours later, and that’s when they found the remains of the man and woman. Investigators say the severity of the fire made their bodies too difficult to identify but they found one person in what appeared to be a bedroom and another in a living room.

According to family friends, the couple had lived in an old farmhouse for decades.


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