CANTON, Minn. (WCCO) — Authorities have identified the members of an Amish family whose house was engulfed in a fatal fire early Monday morning in southern Minnesota.
The fire happened just north of Canton, near the intersection of County Road 21 and 130th Street, about 20 minutes south of Lanesboro in Filmore County. The sheriff says flames engulfed the farmhouse when deputies and volunteer firefighters arrived after 1 a.m.
The extreme cold required them to work in shifts to put out the fire.
On Tuesday, the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office said that three family members had been taken to Gunderson Hospital for non-life threatening injuries. However two family members had gone unaccounted for — 58-year-old Yost Hersbherger and his 18-year-old Ben Hershberger.
At about 2 p.m. Monday, the sheriff announced a man’s body was found buried in the debris. Shortly afterwards, firefighters found the second man’s body. On Tuesday, Sheriff Tom Kaase said “it is feared” the two bodies belonged to the missing family members.
The coroner’s office had not yet issued identities for the two bodies.
The Hershberger’s home was a large farmhouse next to a saw mill operation that the family owns and operates. The sheriff said they are an Amish family and neighbors said the father is one of the leaders in the Amish community in the Canton and Harmony area.
About 150 Amish families live in this part of the state. They are private and reject the ways of modern society. That means their homes have no electricity and are heated by wood-burning stoves.
Investigators say it’s still too early to know what caused fire, but there doesn’t appear to be anything suspicious about it. The wood-burning stoves are of interest to them.