MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 31-year-old man was killed in an early morning house fire on Sunday in St. Paul, authorities say.
Police say the man was cooking food when it caught fire just before 1 a.m. Sunday morning.
The fire spread to the kitchen cabinets, producing a great deal of smoke. Neighbors from the side-by-side duplex reported the smoke to authorities and firefighters arrived shortly after.
The fire gutted the kitchen of the duplex on the 1900 block of Upper After Road.
During the initial search of the home — once the smoky fire was out — firefighters found the man in a rear bedroom closet. They believe he was disoriented from the smoke and ended up in the closet. He was unresponsive.
He was taken to Regions Hospital, where he later died. He was the only occupant of the home at the time of the fire.
Neighbor Katie Mootz says he was a neighborhood helper who helped shovel sidewalks, she says, “if a car got stuck, he’d come and help push it.”
A damage estimate is not available at this time. The fire chief said there were no fire sprinklers and the status of the single smoke detector is being investigated.
The cause of the fire has been ruled unattended cooking, which according to authorities, is the leading cause of building fires in Minnesota.
Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard says he recommends a new product to prevent kitchen fires. It’s called “Fire Stop,” which hangs over stoves and if it senses flames, extinguishes them with a powder. It can only be found online here.
This is the first fire death in St. Paul this year.