NORTH MANKATO — Emily Rand had to wear a neighbor’s clothing Friday because her own, along with virtually all of her family’s belongings, no longer exist.
An early-morning fire Friday in North Mankato destroyed the Emily and Torrey Rand home, heavily damaged another and caused lesser damage to a third house.
North Mankato Fire Chief Tim Pohlman said firefighters responded at 4:30 a.m. to the Rand residence at 833 Lyndale St. to find the home fully ablaze. A two-story garage also was destroyed.
Torrey Rand wasn't home at the time. His wife, 18-year-old son Nicholas and two dogs escaped unharmed. A cat died.
The house next door to the north owned by Brian Fortney received extensive damage from windblown flames, and the house next door to the south owned by Greg Schumacher received some exterior damage, Pohlman said.
"There was a lot going on at the same time," he said. Mankato firefighters were summoned as backup when the second home ignited.
Pohlman said the cause of the fire is yet unknown. It apparently started in an open front porch.
Emily Rand, who was sleeping with her bedroom window slightly open, said she was awakened by the smell of smoke and rushed to rouse her son sleeping on a sofa.
“When I looked out, the porch roof was on fire.”
Pohlman said firefighters had to battle the flames from beyond a set of downed power lines that were dangerously arcing and popping.
“We had the fire knocked down in about an hour, but when we knew we had two house fires going on, we knew we had to call Mankato (firefighters) right away.”
Pohlman said wind gusts spread the fire to the Fortney home, which incurred substantial damage.
The fire also damaged siding on a home owned by North Mankato firefighter Greg Schumacher, who is vacationing with his family in Mexico.
Pohlman said the Schumachers recently moved out of the house and are planning to use it as a rental property.
The intensity of the fire soon turned the Rand home into a charred skeletal shell. Heat was so intense that it melted parts of an SUV parked in the street about 60 feet away.
Torrey Rand, who was staying at the family’s campground at the time, said the family’s home was rebuilt in 2001 following a fire and suggested that it will be rebuilt again.