A structure fire destroyed a Bennett home the morning of Saturday, Dec. 12. Six people were displaced, and the American Red Cross serving Northern Minnesota and Douglas County offered assistance.
“There was one girl there in slipper socks,” said Diane Duner, the Red Cross volunteer who met with them the day of the fire. “All they have is the clothing on their backs.”
Douglas County deputies responded to the residence on South Old #11 Road at about 5:38 a.m. Saturday for a report of a garage fire. When they arrived, the home was also on fire.
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Shandy Corbin said she and her husband, Austin, lost everything in the fire, including their vehicle. Originally from Utah, they have no family in the area. Corbin has reached out to local agencies and churches, and sought help through the Helping Hands in the Northland Facebook page. A GoFundMe page has also been set up for Austin, as well.
Corbin said their biggest needs are food, shelter, clothes and blankets. Those interested in helping can text Corbin at 715-436-4328.
The Bennett fire was the second Douglas County house fire the Red Cross has responded to this holiday season. Dunder said they also assisted people who were displaced by a Poplar house fire earlier this month.
The structure fire on the Wiehe Road was reported at 12:56 p.m. Dec. 6, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Poplar Fire Chief Pat Grube said three people were displaced because the electricity to the home had to be turned off, leaving them with no heat. The home suffered mostly smoke damage, Grube said, and the cause of the fire remains undetermined.
The Red Cross serving Northern Minnesota, which covers 17 counties, responds to about 140 home fires each year, said Dan Williams, executive director. Over the years, they’ve also installed more than 11,000 smoke detectors in homes throughout that area.
“Working smoke detectors are vitally important,” Williams said.
He encouraged everyone to test their smoke detectors and replace batteries if needed. Check the back of the device, as well, to make sure it’s less than 10 years old.
It’s also important to have an escape plan and designate a meeting place before a fire happens.
“One of the leading causes of death or injuries in home fires is someone running in to check if everyone’s out,” Williams said.
The Red Cross provides about $120,000 in aid to families affected by house fires annually. Monetary donations to the organization are being doubled through the end of December, thanks to a generous Duluth donor. Volunteers are also being sought. Some positions, like disaster dispatcher, can be done from home.
For more information, visit the Red Cross website or contact the Duluth office at 218-722-0071.