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Home outside Embarrass a total loss after fire

The fire started Wednesday night, and reignited again early Thursday morning, said the property owner.

Fire truck
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EMBARRASS — A single-family rental home was a complete loss after a fire Wednesday night.

No one was injured as authorities arrived to find an engulfed home and garage at 3820 County Highway 21 in Waasa Township, said a St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office news release.

“I’m looking at it, and it’s rubble,” said Timothy Westvik, owner of the rental home.

The fire was reported at 7:47 p.m.

Westvik described the home as being rented by a family of five, and said the suspicion is the fire started in a chicken coop behind the house.

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The family had moved to the Iron Range from Wisconsin, trying to establish a new home. The family was looking to buy the two-bedroom house from Westvik.

“We were hoping to sell it to them,” Westvik, 41, said. “(They) feel really bad. It was all their stuff in the house. But everyone was safe.”

Westvik bought the home in 2010 for $56,000, according to a St. Louis County property details report. He said he’d put a lot of time and money into it.

“Hopefully, we can rebuild and give the spot back to them and try to sell it then,” he said.

The fire remains under investigation. Fire departments from Embarrass, Babbitt, Tower and the Babbitt police all responded to the fire, which started again around 1 a.m. Thursday.

Westvik said crews remained on the scene through Thursday morning, using an excavator to collapse the house into the basement and garage. The property also features a pole building.

Westvik works for Timber Bay Lodge and Houseboats in Ely. The property was his only rental.

“I’m doing good,” he said, noting the property had been in his family prior to his purchasing it, and that his stepbrother was part of the firefighting effort.

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Brady Slater covers St. Louis County and transportation for the Duluth News Tribune. He's a veteran journalist, and a University of Pittsburgh graduate who was born and raised in the Northland. He can be reached by emailing bslater@duluthnews.com or by calling or texting 218-721-2724.
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