By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Investigators are trying to figure out the cause of an overnight motel fire in Chanhassen, Minn. that claimed the life of one man.

The fire broke out around 2 a.m. Monday inside a cabin-style room at the Brookside Motel. By the time fire crews got to the cabin, it was engulfed in flames.

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There are two units per cabin in the motel that serve as long-term housing.

One man was able to get out of his unit but another man did not.

It was the first fire fatality Chanhassen has seen in more than 25 years.

Friends of the elderly man who died in the fire sifted through what’s left of what was his home.

“I’ve heard some reports from folks that live down there that he was very well regarded, a 15-year resident and just a nice gentlemen,” said Fire Chief John Wolff.

Smoke detectors were working but there are no sprinklers. It’s believed sprinklers could have made a difference.

“This area of Chanhassen does not have city water, which makes it more difficult to install sprinklers into a facility like this. These are really old legacy buildings,” Wolff said.

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The old buildings are home for many who cannot afford to live anywhere else.

“The owner is a really compassionate individual who provides housing for a lot of folks and cares a lot about his residents,” Wolff said.

The residents are more like family. That’s why when the body of the man, who is in his 80s, was discovered, Wolff knew what was needed.

“We actually had our fire Chaplin on scene within about 30 minutes of the call. His focus initially was assisting the residents,” Wolff said.

The Chaplin was also there for the crews and investigators.

After more than two decades since the last fire fatality in Chanhassen, they, too, needed help dealing with the reality that a life was lost.

“It’s tough anytime there is a fatality in any kind of emergency environment but a fire fatality is tough also,” Wolff said.

The city of Chanhassen’s fire marshal, the state fire marshal and fire investigators from the Carver County Sheriff’s Department are working together to find out how the fire started.

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The name of the deceased will be released once all of his relatives have been notified.

Reg Chapman