LUCAN, Minn. (WCCO) — A family in western Minnesota is dealing with a tragic loss. The bodies of two of their children, who were unaccounted for after a fire started in their home, have been recovered.
The fire started around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon near the town of Lucan — just west of Redwood Falls. The parents and several of their children did make it out safely.
Authorities confirmed Thursday afternoon that the body of one of the missing kids was found late Wednesday night. The second child’s body was discovered late Thursday afternoon.
“I saw just very black smoke and I saw the flames go up with the smoke,” Delores Hogen said.
Hogen watched the fire from her living room window. And as she saw the flames rise up, her heart sank when she realized who lived there.
“I was just heartbroken. In a small town like this everybody’s kind of family. And everybody knows everybody so it’s terrible,” Hogen said.
And for many reasons. The parents and some of their children made it out safely, but two of the kids were unaccounted for inside the two-story farmhouse.
As fire crews battled the flames in single-digit temperatures and freezing winds, Vesta firefighter Neal Hansen was seriously hurt when a tanker truck drove over his legs. He remains hospitalized in Mankato, Minn.
In all, seven fire departments were called and firefighters worked through the night putting out hot spots. The investigation into what caused the fire began early Thursday morning. But a cause likely won’t be determined for weeks. Meanwhile, the town of just under 200 is also grieving the loss.
“I think my daughter knew one of the kids and they rode the bus together. She’s really sad and doesn’t know what to think,” said resident Bob Jesse.
“They are just very nice people. The parents both work in Vesta. They are always willing to help, always cheery and a very nice couple. And the kids are so out-going, friendly and lovable,” Hogen said.
Hogen said she got to know the family through her church, Our Lady of Victory in Lucan. And she knows the small town will do whatever it can to help the family get through this.
“All our prayers and well-wishes to the family. It’s going to be very hard for them,” Hogen said.
The Red Cross helped the family find temporary shelter at a hotel in nearby Redwood Falls.
The names and ages of the victims will be released once positive identification is made by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office.
A fund has been set up for the firefighter who was injured. For more information, click here.