It was just another normal day at work for Wykoff local Kelly Rahe when she received an urgent call from her neighbors. They called her around 1:30 on Tuesday, March 13. They told her that smoke was seen coming from her house. At this point, 911 had already been called. The Rahe’s neighbors were kind enough to get the dogs out of the house, and hold them at their house. The blue heelers, Bo and Lulu, were the only ones present in the house that day. Both Kelly and her husband Tony rushed home to find Gold Street lined with emergency vehicles.
The fire inspector suspected that the first sparks could have started around 10 a.m. that morning. Most likely starting from old wiring in the walls, the fire spread throughout the home. The east side of the house experienced the worst of the damage. The old home, which was believed to be built around 1890, had two additions added on over the years. The fire inspector thinks the fire started somewhere in the kitchen, which was in one of the house’s additions. It then crept through the walls of the kitchen and to the stairs.
In order to quell the flames, firefighters from Stewartville used the ladder truck to bore a hole through the tin roof. They could then use the hole on the roof to extinguish the flames. Unfortunately, the hole in the roof flooded the house with oxygen, growing the conflagration further. It took firefighters hours and hours to push back against the inferno. A construction excavator was brought in from Spring Valley. It was used to tear down a wall of the house to give the hoses better access. The homeowner, Tony Rahe, is a firefighter for the city of Wykoff. His fellow first responders made token attempts to stop him from putting out the blaze, but he would not be discouraged. Chatfield, Spring Valley, Stewartville, and Fountain Fire Departments were all on the scene to give a helping hand. Late that evening, the last of the embers were finally extinguished. The only room that didn’t experience complete destruction from the fire was the living room on the west end, although there was damage from both water and smoke. In the end, the house was deemed a total loss. No other garages or nearby houses caught fire. Thankfully, there were no injuries.
The city of Wykoff put the Rahes in the town’s Jail Haus B&B until they could sort out arrangements with their insurance. More recently, their insurance covered them for a camper to be put on their property. Their plan is to demolish the house and have a modular home built on the lot.
Tony and Kelly also expressed gratitude to all of their family, friends, and neighbors throughout the whole ordeal. Be it meals, or gift card donations, folks have come out in great numbers to support the couple. “I can’t say how thankful we are. It’s really incredible,” said Kelly. They also were grateful that nobody was injured and their neighbors were able to retrieve their dogs from the home. Minnwest Bank, with whom Kelly has been employed for over 20 years, even started a benefit account for her and her husband. One piece of advice Kelly would give to readers is to take pictures of the inside and outside of your house at least once a year. “It’s something you don’t think about until it happens, but having a record of your belongings can be very useful,” she said. This can also be a good reminder to have a plan in place in case of a fire emergency. It’s always wise to check smoke detector batteries at least every six months, and keep a fire extinguisher in the home.
If you’re interested in donating to the Rahe family, you may call the Minnwest Bank locations in Wykoff, Lewiston or Spring Valley and inquire about the Rahe benefit account that has been started in their name.