Man dies in Sawyer cabin fireOfficials say a man whose body was found last Wednesday in a burned-out cabin on Mission Road near Sawyer died of accidental smoke inhalation.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Officials say a man whose body was found last Wednesday in a burned-out cabin on Mission Road near Sawyer died of accidental smoke inhalation.
After sending the man’s remains to the medical examiner in Hibbing, the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office reported Friday that the victim was 50-year-old Raymond William Smith Jr. of Cloquet.
Cloquet Area Fire District Chief Kevin Schroeder said the fire was reported about 6 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27. Officers with the Fond du Lac Police Department and the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the fire.
According to Schroeder, when CAFD firefighters responded, they could see the cabin was “fully engaged” with the fire. They were unable to reach the cabin, however, because it was located about two-thirds of a mile down an unplowed road that the fire trucks were unable to traverse.
The firefighters instead walked into the fire, with whatever tools they could carry.
“We knew it was pretty much gone and it wasn’t threatening any other structures,” Schroeder said. “If we had needed to get in [with a truck], we would have had to have the county plow a road for us.”
Schroeder said law enforcement contacted the property owner as soon as possible to see if anyone used the cabin in the winter. When the owner said someone – Raymond Smith – occasionally stayed there, they initiated a search.
“When they still hadn’t found him by midday, law enforcement took over [the property] as a potential crime scene,” Schroeder said, adding that is usual procedure when there is a possible fatality.
When the scene had cooled enough, CAFD investigators began a search of the cabin’s footprint and found human remains.
Schroeder said – at that point – the State Fire Marshal was requested to come.
The fire destroyed the cabin, which was owned by family members of Smith, according to Lt. Rick Lake of the Sheriff’s Office.
The State Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the cause and origin of the fire with the assistance of the CAFD fire investigation team.
“There was literally nothing left of the cabin,” Schroeder said. “The structure had burned to ash.”
Services for Smith were held Wednesday. (See Page A6 in this week’s Pine Journal for details.)
According to the Handevidt Funeral Home online obituary, Smith was a 1982 Cloquet High School graduate and member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, mother and many other family members.