MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Investigators are trying to determine what caused a kennel to catch fire in the north metro, killing 18 dogs.

It happened early Tuesday at the Waterview Kennels off Interstate 35 in Stacy. Some of the dogs belonged to the owners. Other dogs were boarded there or there for training.

The sudden loss has changed families forever. As soon as Bob Steiner learned about the fire at the kennels, he took off work and made his way to Stacy.

“It hasn’t set in yet. I’m still kind of in shock, disbelief, but it’s hard. It really is,” Steiner said.

His 8-month-old dog Browning had been there at obedience school for a month. He was supposed to come home to his family on Wednesday.

“Very full of energy, fun-loving family dog, good around the kids. They loved him, jumped on him to play,” Steiner said.

(credit: Isanti County Sheriff’s Office)

He said the owner who lives on site was devastated over what happened and said most of the dogs belonged to her.

“She was crying pretty hard so, they are like her dogs. She took very good care of them, she really did,” Steiner said.

WCCO-TV learned one of the owners woke up early Tuesday morning and saw the kennel on fire. She called 911. By the time firefighters arrived, the structure was engulfed in flames and partially collapsed.

“Because the roof had collapsed in and was covering so much contents we had to dispatch some heavy equipment to help us peel that roofing tin off so that we could then access and finish extinguishing the contents inside,” said Isanti Fire Chief Al Jankovich.

All 18 dogs inside died. Steiner wants to know what happened, but says he does not blame anyone.

“I’m glad I got to see him one last time, which was good. It’s going to take some time to heal over it for sure,” Steiner said.

Fire officials report the building did not have a sprinkler system. That is not uncommon for the type of building.

The Minnesota State Fire Marshal will help pinpoint what happened.

Jennifer Mayerle