(Alexandria, MN) Jennifer Olson was sworn in as the first female Alexandria Firefighter back on April 9th, 2018. Her training helped her learn to trust her fellow firefighters during an emergency. That trust was taken to a whole new level Wednesday afternoon when her home caught fire at 408 Fingal Court in Alexandria. Jennifer was miles away, as was her husband Ryan. At home were two of their kids and the family dog. A neighbor made sure they were safe, then called 9-1-1. He explains what he saw after hearing the initial screams from the kids. (AUDIO BELOW)
The time of the call was 12:36 pm and the department was in route within two minutes. Callers stated that flames were shooting out of the living room windows. Alexandria Fire Chief Jeff Karrow says, "Upon arrival the first line entered and had a great knock down and kept the fire from spreading to further areas. Searches and confirmation that all people were out. Venting and thermal image cameras were used to check for extension. The origin of the fire was determined to be low and under the couch area in the living room. It is still under investigation but there is NO arson suspected; it appears wires shorted out from nearby lamp; that were chewed on by a pet."
Karrow says that this fire also had a different dynamic to it because it was the home of one of their own. Karrow added, "Jennifer knows the tactics and is trained in all the operations, but it's different when it is your house. AFD is like a 2nd family to all of us and it does affect all of us-a few hugs and taps on the shoulders from many of the members. AFD firefighters offered whatever other support besides the fire suppression and clean up."
Jennifer talk with VOA's Joe Korkowski about the situation and her fellow firefighters. (AUDIO BELOW)
The house valued at approximately $160,000 sustained extensive fire damage in the living room and heavy smoke damage throughout the rest of the house; no damages are assessed at this time. The Red Cross was contacted for the family.
AFD was on scene for approximately 1 hr and 20 minutes. During mop up, one AFD firefighter received some cuts from broken glass from the windows that had shattered.