A Cloquet home was damaged after a fire broke out around 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 12.
Bill and Annette Jantzen own the home at 319 Avenue E and were home at the time of the fire. They were able to escape unharmed with all of their pets, except for a kitten. Bill said he thought the kitten, named Zoom, slipped outside. Zoom looks like a little bobcat with a short tail. She was wearing a collar, which had tags on it.
“I opened the door and felt something go by,” he said. “I’m hoping it was her. Her name is Zoom because she is so fast.”
Bill, 70, and Annette, 76, got out of the house after Bill smelled smoke. A neighbor later told him there had been smoke coming from the roof of the house they had lived in for almost 35 years.
“I smelled smoke but couldn't figure out where it was coming from,” Bill said.
With all of the snow Cloquet has received this winter, fire hydrants were not accessible. That didn't stop the fire department, though. The Cloquet Area Fire Department brings a water tanker to fires this time of year for just that reason, Capt. Mike Garberg said.
“We showed up on scene with 42,000 gallons of water,” Garberg said.
Firefighters finished battling the blaze around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, but left a crew behind to watch for hot spots, he said. Part of the roof had collapsed, leaving areas the firefighters could not access.
Bill was at the house on Monday, Jan. 13 trying to find what could be salvaged. Many items could be saved, including Annette's purse with her cell phone, which a firefighter brought out of the home.
The couple has dealt with adversity over the last few years. A neighbor's garage started on fire two years ago, setting their garage ablaze in the process. Firefighters were able to save Bill's car, which was parked in the garage.
Just a few days before the house fire, the couple's furnace went out.
While they are currently staying with a relative, Bill hopes to find other accommodations soon.
“We’re doing OK right now,” Bill said. “What I really need is a place I can stay with my dogs.”
A GoFundMe page set up by Bill and Annette's granddaughter raised $1,890 of it's $5,000 goal as of Monday afternoon.
Bill said he appreciates the outpouring of support from the community and the work of the fire departments.
“I cant believe all of the help we are getting from people,” Bill said.
The Northern Minnesota Red Cross met with the Jantzens on Monday afternoon. Tony Guerra, disaster program manager, said the organization offered emergency assistance to help purchase clothes, food and lodging for a few days, if needed. They will also help replace medications and refer the couple to other agencies.