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Columbia Heights House Fire Kills Dog, Pig, and Owner


A house fire in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, claimed the lives of a man and his two pets, a dog and a pig, CBS News reported.

Firefighters from Columbia Heights Fire Department rushed to the burning house — located on the 4600 block of Seventh Street Northeast — early last Thursday morning a little before 1 a.m. According to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, the fire broke out around that time. 

Officials have yet to determine the exact cause of the blaze and are working with the State Fire Marshall to investigate the tragic incident. It’s believed that the man, 59-year-old Brian Henry Drews, lived with his three pets — a dog, a pig, and a duck. 

The duck was not among the dead bodies retrieved by the rescue crew from the charred house. As of Thursday afternoon, a search for the missing duck was already underway.

Fire department’s swift response to the emergency 

Upon arrival at the residence, firefighters found the house engulfed with heavy smoke and fire. The crew immediately realized there was an occupant in the home and began fighting the blaze while trying to gain entry into the residence.

“Once we found out there was a person inside, we went into a different mode. We went into rescue mode,” Charlie Thompson, the department’s fire chief, said.

The fire crew managed to break a ground-level window in a hurried attempt to rescue the homeowner. Once they gained access to the burning house, they found the man alive, though in bad shape. After getting him out, they treated him on the scene before rushing him to a nearby hospital, where he was, regretfully, pronounced dead.

“He had a pulse here, they began interventions on him once they got him out,” Thompson remarked. “But he died at the hospital.”

It was after containing the blaze and surveying the home that responders discovered the dead bodies of the two pets.  

Fire Chief issues fire prevention and safety tips 

The devastating fire broke hearts in the neighborhood, with neighbors of the victim struggling to come to terms with the incident.

“For lack of a better word, it sucks,” David Lickness, who lived a few blocks away from the victim, commented. “Any loss of life is not a good thing, especially this way. It was a shock.” 

Lickness further stated, “I’d seen the dog out there, but I didn’t know he had a pig and a duck.” He added, “That saddens me greatly that none of them made it.”

The fire department’s Chief Thompson believes that a working smoke alarm at the residence could have helped prevent the tragedy.

“I’m not saying there weren’t working smoke detectors in there,” the Chief began. Continuing, he explained, “but they’ll certainly alarm you at the proper time so you can make an exit in a fire such as this.” Finally, Thompson pointed to the fact that fires are often most “dangerous and life-threatening” when they occur “in the middle of the night when we are sleeping.”

To avoid heartbreak and ensure you’re fire alarms are in good working order, the Chief issued sound advice to the community. He suggested that when the time changes, residents should “change the batteries of [their] fire and smoke alarms, too.”


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