Victim Of St. Paul Fire Describes Scene: ‘We Were Trapped’
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – A victim of an early Monday morning fire described the frightening scene, as she and her family struggled to escape their home, which is now considered a total loss in St. Paul.
The fire happened just before 4 a.m. at a home on the 500 block of Point Douglas Road South.
Eight hours later, fire crews were still working to put out hot spots at the home, where the roof also collapsed.
Four people escaped the fire with minor cuts and smoke inhalation. They were taken to Regions Hospital.
Andrea Pagel said the family heard the smoke alarm go off in the morning but the fire quickly spread.
The people inside, including her daughter, Nicole Cherveny and her husband Kevin, plus her husband’s mother and sister, Sally Cherveny, had to think fast — opening windows and trying to break down doors to get out.
Sally Cherveny said they were all released from the hospital around noon.
“Smoke inhalation was the biggest thing going on with us,” she said. “When we were in the middle of the fire, the smoke was so thick and black that we couldn’t see to get out so we were basically trapped in there.”
Sally said she woke up to her mother yelling for help. She said she ran down the stairs with her brother and saw flames on the wall. They tried to control the fire but in 30 seconds, it had engulfed the entire living room and soon after, the entire kitchen.
“My brother and my sister-in-law got out the back door and I had to get out a window,” she said. “In the middle of it, there was explosions going off — I don’t know what was exploding but my mom was still in the house and we didn’t know if she was going to make it out.”
Luckily, her mother was able to escape out the front door. However, they were unable to save their two dogs.
Sally said they had a fire extinguisher but it wasn’t in the same room where the fire began. She said they feel lucky they had working smoke alarms, which likely saved their lives.
“It’s so important for people, especially in this type of season, to have fire extinguishers — it could’ve saved our entire house and our animals,” she said, through tears.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.