LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Minnesota – Two bodies were found in a house fire that started early Thursday morning in Liberty Township, 13 miles northwest of Bemidji.
According to a statement from the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, at approximately 6:12 a.m. on Thursday, December 23, the Beltrami County Dispatch Center received a call regarding a residential fire in the 9000 block of Pony Lake Road NW in Liberty Township, located approximately 13 miles northwest of Bemidji.
Upon arrival, emergency personnel found the second floor of the two-story building completely engulfed. Initial reports indicated that two children living in the residence were missing and may have been trapped in an upstairs bedroom.
Fire chief Justin Sherwood said firefighters located the bedroom window and attempted a rescue, but was unsuccessful.
At 10:45 a.m., the sheriff’s office announced that emergency personnel were continuing to search for possible victims at the scene. There were 45 firefighters working to put out the blaze with 16 pieces of equipment, including members of the Bemidji, Shevlin, Solway and Blackduck fire departments. Bemidji Ambulance Service and Minnesota State Patrol also responded to the scene.
According to an update from the sheriff’s office, shortly after 1 p.m., two bodies were recovered from the blaze. The victims were transported to the medical examiner’s office for autopsy and identification.
Sherwood said firefighters had been on the scene for more than eight hours and the house was considered a total loss. No firefighter injuries were reported, but an adult female was injured and was transported to Sanford Medical Center in Bemidji.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time,” Sheriff Ernie Beitel said in the statement.
Three investigators from the Minnesota Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bemidji Fire Department are assisting the sheriff’s office.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation and no information is available at the moment regarding the identity of those involved, the statement said.
“Special thanks to Heroes Rise Coffee Company and area residents for providing food, water and coffee to our stakeholders,” said Sherwood. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all who are involved in today’s tragic event.”