By Jeff Wagner

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) — One person was killed in a house fire Wednesday afternoon in Maple Grove.

Fire officials in the suburb northwest of Minneapolis said that crews responded around 1 p.m. to a 911 call about a fire in a home on the 10170 block of Nathan Lane. First-responders found a “significant fire” at the home, which prevented any immediate rescue attempt.

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The flames shooting from the home sent neighbor Matt Narum quickly out his door and across the street.

“I haven’t seen a house or any sort of thing burn that fast before,” Narum said. “I sprinted over here because I saw immediately that it was, you know, a fire, and I knew, you know, we know these neighbors pretty well.”

Narum said the man who lived there was able to escape in “rough shape,” but that his wife was trapped inside. Investigators said she had mobility issues and likely struggled to get out.

“I tried to grab fire extinguishers and stuff like that, but the fire was so bad that it was beyond anything that we can try to get in,” he said.

The same struggles confronted fire crews. Deputy Chief Patrick Farrens said it was upgraded to a two-alarm fire with several trucks on scene.

(credit: CBS)

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“Unfortunately with those fire conditions, and her still being inside, there just was, wasn’t anything they could do with that,” Farrens said.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victim as 72-year-old Mary Jo Berberick.

The block was filled with concerned neighbors hours after the fire was put out. Narum said they often gather for a “happy hour” in the late afternoon, including the elderly couple from the now-destroyed home.

One neighbor told WCCO off camera that he was supposed to grab dinner with the couple later in the day.

Narum said they were generous with more than just their time, like when they bought baby clothes for his 10-month-old child.

He hopes this tragedy reminds people to get mindful of the people living next door, or in his case, across the street.

“It’s a very sad situation so my prayers and thoughts are for them,” he said.

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The fire is under investigation.

Jeff Wagner