NEW ULM, Minn. (WCCO) – Authorities confirmed six people are dead after a large fire in New Ulm early Saturday morning.

The New Ulm Fire Department said at least ten people were inside a New Ulm bed and breakfast when it became engulfed in flames. Fire officials received a report of a fire at about 1:45 a.m. at the Bohemian Bed and Breakfast, located at the intersection of 3rd Avenue South and Minnesota Street.

When authorities arrived, four people had escaped. One person was treated and released on scene, another treated and released at New Ulm Medical Center, and two others were airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center.

Zach Kuck, 17, of New Ulm, shot a video shortly after the fire started. Kuck says as he shot the video, he heard a woman screaming for help.

Family members on scene said cries for help likely came from the bed and breakfast owner Bobbi McCrea and her two young daughters, ages 3 and 15. The family said all three died in the fire, along with three others, whose identities remain unknown. New Ulm Fire Chief Paul Macho says they are likely out of town guests.

“It pretty much just haunts your mind,” Kuck said. “I pretty much stood and watched those people die.”

Family friend Darla Gebhard says McCrea was a pillar in the community, from historic preservation efforts to community theater.

“Bobbi is a very bubbly energetic asset to New Ulm, she moved back ten years ago, and immediately she and her husband joined Brown County Historical Society and other historic organizations. With her bed and breakfast, she certainly put New Ulm on the map, built a website and did a lot for tourism in New Ulm, which I think she will be remembered for,” Gebhard said.

Gebhard said McCrea was born in Ulm and moved back specifically to open up the business and renovate the house.

Authorities say that autopsies will need to completed before the other victims can be identified. The autopsies are expected to be completed Tuesday.

Authorities say they are confident that there are no more victims. In total, investigators say four adults died along with one teen and one child.

Fire Chief Paul Macho said the house was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, the heat made it too difficult to enter despite repeated attempts to make it inside. There was extensive damage to the interior, including a collapse of the third floor and roof, which made it difficult for firefighters to move around the structure. Fire crews were on the scene until late Saturday evening.

Macho called it emotional for many of the firefighters who knew the McCrea family, saying the department faced a day with long faces and heavy hearts.

Owner Bobbi McCrea unknowingly sent out a final message on her Twitter account at 10:30 last night. She tweeted: “Providing Shelter from the storm. More important, good company swept in, wow.”

Her family released a statement to WCCO-TV. It read: “Bobbi was a golden thread woven throughout the tapestry of the community.”

The cause of the fire is not known at this time. Investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office arrived Saturday afternoon to start an investigation.

Comments (18)
  1. ReBecca Geiger says:

    our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of those affected by the horrific tragedy

    1. Mike Olson says:

      Rebecca, Is this you? I saw this article on facebook and took a look at it, I saw your comment.

      Mike Olson

  2. Ashley says:

    This young 15 yr old girl and her family will be missed. Everyone affected by this is in my prayers

  3. Ashley lyn says:

    This is a tragic loss for our town! It was a beautiful home and the family were great ppl! Hoping this doesn’t happen to another family because it is a horrible event! Thoughts and prayers go out to the family!

  4. Amy Zents says:

    It makes me cry just watching ths.

  5. Jason says:

    So sad. Sorry for their family. Your in my prayers.

  6. Bill Traxel says:

    This is an absolute tragedy. We had stayed at their B&B twice.
    Bobbie was a very kind and hospitable person. Our prayers
    go out to those families left behind.

  7. kevin landrum says:

    A fund has been set up for Charlie Zangl (fiance of Bobbi and father of Savannah)

    Charles Zangl fund
    c/o Emmy Zangl
    Merchants Bank of Wino
    102 East Third St.
    Winona, MN 55987

    Thank You and God Bless

  8. Amy says:

    So sorry for everyone involved! I lived in New Ulm for 7 years and lived the wonderful spirit of the city! My prayers are with all.

  9. Christine Brandt says:

    We stayed at the B&B just last weekend and adored Bobbi. I am is shock. She welcomed us, gave us wine, fed us a great breakfast, gave me cuttings from her garden for my yard. While she was cutting them I asked her what was on the third floor and she said that was where she lived with her children. Little did anyone think that that is where they would all perish. I am heartbroken.

  10. Samantha M says:

    This is such a sad tragedy for our community. I am so sorry for the families facing such a devastating loss, our hearts and prayers go out to you.

  11. Richard in Minneapolis says:

    While I grieve for the six who lost their lives I also have to wonder how long we will continue to build houses of such flammable construction. I realize this house is very old, but building wood frame houses still seems to be the norm

  12. Debbie Danks says:

    Reading and crying. I came as a guest and made a beloved friend and sister. (I had to fight with her to be allowed to pay for my room on my second visit.) Bobbi was a beautiful, generous soul and a wonderful mother. Comfort and peace to all who love Bobbi and her precious daughters.

  13. jedd says:

    Thoughts and prayers.

  14. Kate says:


  15. Shari Herbert says:

    Mt heart goes out to everyone, especailly the small community of New Ulm. We will pray for all of you and if you need help, let us know. Again, how sad is this and I will pray.

  16. jamie says:

    sorry for all the family”s that lost all there loved ones in the fire. your in our thoughts and prayers, they will be remembered by everybody that new bobbi and family and anybodt that didnt know them

  17. Tom Halverson says:

    Bobbi and her girls will be missed. I stayed at the BBB while working in New Ulm, and found Bobbi to be very nice and caring. What a terrible loss for New Ulm. They will be missed. My thoughts and prayers will be with them. Tom Halverson.

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