Victims ID’d In New Ulm Bed And Breakfast Fire

NEW ULM, Minn. (WCCO) – Authorities have identified the six people who died in a large fire at the Bohemian Bed and Breakfast in New Ulm early Saturday morning.

New Ulm Police said Thursday the victims are 48-year-old Roberta Ann McCrea of New Ulm, her two daughters, 15-year-old Abby Gayle Wood and 3-year-old Savannah McCrea, 67-year-old Andrew Uhing of Hardington, Neb., 62-year-old Joseph J. Bergman of Centuria, Wis. and 59-year-old Dian Lee Bergman of Centuria, Wis.

Authorities said all six died as a result of fire-related injuries.

“Quite a tragedy. It’s too bad,” said Sharon Prochaska, an onlooker in the neighborhood Thursday. “It’s a terrible tragedy. We’re just very sad.”

Four people escaped from the house in time and survived the fire. Authorities have identified them as 53-year-old Charles Zangi of New Ulm, 54-year-old Diane Kathryn Frye and 58-year-old Charles Alan Frye of Plymouth and 61-year-old Sandra Uhing of Hardington, Neb.

The New Ulm Fire Department responded to a report of a fire at the bed and breakfast at 1:44 a.m. Saturday. When authorities arrived, the house was completely engulfed in flames.

Details were released Thursday morning that the house hadn’t been recently inspected and wasn’t licensed for guests. Here is a link to that story. Roberta McCrea, the owner of the bed and breakfast, never intended for the main house to be a bed and breakfast so it was never inspected for paying guests. Fire officials said there is no way of proving whether a fire inspection would’ve saved the lives of the six victims.

Although there were no reports of inspections this year, there is evidence of completed inspections the last two years. A smaller guest home that sits behind the main house also did receive an inspection as recently as December 2010.

New Ulm Fire Chief Paul Macho said the fire is one of the most devastating that’s ever taken place in the community.

“It’s amazing when you think of the damage in a fire like that,” said Macho. “It’s hard to believe. Just hard to believe, really.”

The New Ulm Fire Department said the exact cause of the fire remains under investigation.

  • Missy

    My thoughts and prayers go out to all families affected :(

    • Tom Ford

      This is an absolute tradgedy, so sad, my heart and prayers go out to any and all involved. There is no need to place blame here.

  • Mike

    It would really be in the best interest of the public at large if this story reflected a sense of where this took place. It was the unlicensed Bohemian Bed and Breakfast in New Ulm. It was an illegal operation and should be acknowledged as such. If your going to spend time at a Bed and Breakfast check them out before signing a contract. It could save your life!

    • Sad

      I understand what you’re saying, but it seems kind of heartless. The carriage house was licensed and she never intended the main house to be used by guests. Previous articles said she had taken in people that night after a big storm had passed through. Maybe she was just trying to be nice and not turn away people in need. So if the place had been licensed, the fire wouldn’t have happened, or they would have lived through a fire? No one will ever know and it really doesn’t matter, because they didn’t.

    • Jason

      It’s a little too soon to be so harsh. She used the home as a Bed-and-Breakfast in the past and never had a problem getting it licensed before. She had minor infractions such as a non-working smoke alarm or an issue with a fire extinguisher, which were ALWAYS resolved quickly. Obviously the structure of the building didn’t raise any red flags in the past as to its suitability for use as a B&B.

      Yes, she should have been licensed, but you seem to imply that she was running a dangerous operation, which from what I read about her and the way she was, I don’t think was the case. This is an unfortunate event, possibly a horrible coincidence.

      Perhaps the codes need to be stricter, but if she followed the codes that were in place, then we can hardly blame her. This fire may have had the same outcome, even if she was licensed.

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