Passerby alerts family of 6 to fire


It’s the kindness of strangers, of friends, of family, of community that weaves its way through the story of the house fire at 2518 County Road 8 NW in Chatham Township very early Wednesday morning.
Shane Jurgens, owner of SJ Roofing, long-time Maple Lake area business, his wife, Karina, their two children,  Gabe, 9 and Emily 6, and Karina’s 15-year-old twins, Kora and Katelyn Fuller, were awakened just after midnight by loud blows to the front door.
“We were all in bed, sleeping, the pounding on the door startled us,” said Karina. “A truck driver passing by saw the fire and was trying to wake us up – there was a lady that stopped, too, I don’t know if they were together or not, it seems like she was doing most of the talking and he was helping get the kids out.”
“I heard the pounding, heard Karina start hollering to get the kids moving and thought somebody was breaking in,” said Shane. 
The first Good Samaritan who saw the fire and stopped to warn the family was Bill Muehring of South Haven, a delivery trucker for Bernatello’s heading to Mankato. “I saw the flames and thought the deck was on fire,” said Muehring. “I had the sheriff’s number in my phone so I pushed that instead of 911. I ran to the house and started pounding on the door at the deck end of the house, didn’t hear anything so I worked my way around to the other end. By that time I could see flames spreading and really started pounding. After I finally woke them up things started happening pretty fast- another person driving by, a woman, stopped to help, the kids got out and the first fire trucks got there. I was on the South Haven Fire Department for 22 years so I stayed and helped pull hoses for a little bit until a sheriff’s deputy told me I needed to get my truck off the road.”
The woman who stopped is unknown. The Jurgens family would like to thank her personally for her help that night and encourages her to make herself known.
“My first priority was getting my wife and all the kids out,” said Shane. “Then I grabbed  fire extinguishers and tried to put out the fire on the deck, but things started falling around me so I quit and ran to get our dog, Sydney, out of the garage.
The fire, which was determined by the Cause and Origins inspector to have started from faulty electrical wiring to the alarm for the mound septic system, began in the outside wall of a tuck-under garage and proceeded quickly to the deck and into the family room above the garage.
Maple Lake Fire Chief, Todd Borell, was one of the responding firefighters. “When we were paged we were told the deck was on fire, the second page said that they were getting everybody out,  and by the time we got there the house was burning.” said Borell. “We called in Buffalo and Annandale for mutual aid, they were a great help.”
“It only took about 5 minutes to get everybody up and running,” said Karina. “My car was parked in front and the kids and I were rushing to get in it and out of the house. By then the smoke was getting really dense – it followed us into the car, everybody was coughing. We had to pull out on the road to try to get away from the smoke.”
“The fire started in the outside of the house and was working its way around,” said Shane.  “I didn’t even see it until I pulled the family room curtains open – then you saw the flames – those were the first windows to blow in. I started to try to get things out of the house when the fire trucks started coming in.  Maple Lake was the first to get there, then Buffalo and Annandale.”