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Fire destroys Gieseke home near Klossner

Couple escapes injury

Staff photo by Fritz Busch The Klossner area home of Myrt and Vern Gieseke was a total loss Friday after an early morning fire that apparently started in the garage of the home.

KLOSSNER — Fire destroyed a rural New Ulm home owned by Myrt and Vern Gieseke early Friday morning.

Nicollet County dispatch received a 911 call about an attached garage on fire at 40391 551st Avenue at 12:50 a.m. July 11.

Upon arrival, Nicollet County Sheriff’s Office deputies found the house fully engulfed in flames. Firefighters from Courtland, New Ulm, Lafayette, and North Mankato also responded.

The Giesekes escaped injury and their vehicles were driven out of garages before the fire damaged them. The home was demolished.

Vern Gieseke said he was sleeping when the fire began. He said his wife was sewing and still awake in another room.

“She had to get something done in the sewing room,” Vern Gieseke said. “She said she smelled smoke, opened a garage door and saw cinders. She went outside, saw what was burning and woke me up. I came out and saw the compost barrel (near the garage) was beet red from burning.”

Gieseke said flames were going up the side of the shop and curling around the eaves when he got outside.

He used a couple of fire extinguishers to fight the blaze.

“I could kind of control the fire, keeping it down with one extinguisher,” said Gieseke. “I had trouble getting the pin out of the second extinguisher. There was a chain around it. I got the second one going and used it until it ran out. Once the fire got up high, it galloped across the roof. Flames were 30 feet in the air.”

“If Mom would have been sleeping, there may not have been enough time for them to get out,” said their son Tim Gieseke, who farms part-time on the fourth-generation family farm just north of his parents.

Fortunately, a large propane tank near the house and a smaller barbecue grill tank in the garage remained intact.

Flower and vegetable gardens and dozens of trees near the home appeared to be unharmed.

Myrt Gieseke, who volunteers at the Treasure Haus in New Ulm, sewed about 1,000 cloth COVID-19 pandemic face-masks last year.

“I was sewing earlier in the night, then watched some television,” said Myrt Gieseke. “As I got ready to go to bed, I thought I smelled something like wood. I got out of the house, opened the garage door and saw sparks and a big fire in the composter. I woke up Vern right away and called 911. Then I backed out the car and truck and took some gas cans outside. It just went so fast.”

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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