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Lakeside home rocked by fire, explosions; no one injured, damage estimated at $100K

Fire and explosions severely damaged a Lakeside home late Monday morning, but both occupants escaped without injury. The cause of the fire was not immediately clear, but much of the damage to the single-story brick home at 810 Rockview Court appe...

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A Duluth firefighter hoses down a car in the driveway of a home at 810 Rockview Court in Duluth's Lakeside neighborhood on Monday morning. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com
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Fire and explosions severely damaged a Lakeside home late Monday morning, but both occupants escaped without injury.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear, but much of the damage to the single-story brick home at 810 Rockview Court appeared to be centered in the attached garage, where gaping holes exposed a charred interior.

Duluth firefighters were on the scene within minutes and quickly had the fire knocked down.

The home suffered smoke, heat and water damage, but firefighters on the scene said the fireproof wall between the home and garage prevented worse damage to the house itself.

The fire, first reported just after 11 a.m., quickly spread to a Ford Explorer SUV parked in the driveway, destroying it. The fire also blew out windows in the house next door where heat from the flames appeared to bubble paint and melt tires on a boat trailer.

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“We heard one loud explosion, then two smaller ones. It was really loud. Then we looked out and saw the fireball,” said Nancy Gregg, who lives four houses away and called 911 immediately.

Her husband, Paul Gregg, rushed to the scene but said flames were too extensive to enter the house.

“The dispatcher told us that everyone was out, and that’s a good thing because I would have never got inside to help anyone. There was just too much flame,’’ he said.

An 11-year-old girl and her nanny were in the house when they heard odd noises coming from the doorbell.

“I was on the couch watching TV and the doorbells started making a buzzing sound. We got out of there fast,” said Kaylin Ebinger, the nanny.

The home is owned by Tobbi Stager and his wife, Paige, who both were away at work at the time of the incident.

“I have no idea what could have caused this. The explosions were probably propane and gasoline in the garage. But I can’t imagine that’s where it started,” Stager said after arriving on the scene about 15 minutes after the fire started.

Damage was initially estimated at $100,000, according to the Duluth Fire Department. The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Duluth Fire Department Fire Marshal’s Office.

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The family dog, Teddy, ran away from the scene during the commotion of the fire.

“I went back in to get him and got him out of the house, but he jumped out of my arms and ran away,’’ Ebinger said.

The small Shih Tzu-bichon frise mix was found later by some children, safe and sound, hiding in a neighbor’s bushes.

Firefighters recovered computers and photographs from the fire quickly, but Stager said he was more worried about the dog’s well-being than the home or its contents.

“It’s insured. No one was hurt. We’ll make it,” Stager said. “This is a good excuse to spend the rest of the summer at the cabin.”

Related Topics: FIRES
John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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