Weather Forecast


Family escapes early morning fire in Perham

A family of five escaped safely from a smoke-filled top floor apartment in Perham early Saturday, Sept. 13.

Perham police and firefighters rushed to the scene at about 6:30 a.m.

"They came within a few minutes of not being able to get out of the building," said Perham Volunteer Fire Department Chief Tracy Schmidt.

The family reportedly crawled beneath the smoke to reach the door. Four of the five family members, which included a 13-year-old, 9-year-old and an 18-month-old, were treated and released at Perham Memorial Hospital, because of smoke inhalation. The mother sustained second degree burns on her arm. The father's hair was severely singed, said Chief Schmidt.

The middle level apartment's occupants were not home. The resident in the basement unit, Kenny Johnson, was abruptly awakened by a Perham Police officer and escaped from the building wearing a pair of pants--but no shirt.

Eight people have been displaced as a result of the fire in the three-unit apartment building. An electrical inspector concluded the building was unsafe to occupy.

Located on 2nd Street Southwest, the structure was directly behind the Perham firehall--less than a block away. The fire was well under control within 45 minutes, but firefighters remained at the scene for about three hours, said Schmidt.

Firefighters cut a hole through the roof to fight the fire.

There was extensive smoke and water damage, mainly to the top floor apartment. The cause of the fire has not been determined yet.

New York Mills firefighters, who were already in action at an early morning, one-car rollover on a rural road, came to Perham as back-up.

A total loss is how Chief Schmidt described the condition of the belongings in the top unit of the complex. There was one loss of life: The family cat.