Anoka family grateful for care shown by firefighters

One Anoka family experienced one of a homeowner’s greatest fears last weekend.

The afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 5 Amanda Kohuth smelled something strange in her home on Coolidge Street.

She and husband Pete had a fire going in their basement fireplace. They put it out, but the smell didn’t go away. They checked the furnace, the water heater and the dryer.

The chimney fire was knocked down from the exterior of Amanda and Pete Kohuth’s Coolidge Street home. Photo by Mandy Moran Froemming
The chimney fire was knocked down from the exterior of Amanda and Pete Kohuth’s Coolidge Street home. Photo by Mandy Moran Froemming

Pete even went on the roof to check things out, but couldn’t find a problem. The second time he went up he saw smoke pouring out the roof and they called 911.

By the time the Anoka-Champlin Fire Department arrived, the fire that had started in the chimney on the second level on the home had spread into the wall.

The couple, along with their two-year-old son and four pets, were all able to leave the home safely.

Even though there is serious damage to upstairs living room and smoke damage throughout the house and the family will have to live elsewhere for the next 12 to 16 weeks, Amanda is grateful for the great care the firefighters showed for their home and their belongings.

“My husband is a (Minnesota) Vikings collector,” Amanda said. “We thought for sure that some of his stuff would be broken.”

But all of his items had been carefully moved out of the way – off the mantle and the walls –  by firefighters who had to investigate the lower level fireplace.

Firefighters also did something very important for Amanda. Since she was not allowed to go back inside once they had knocked down the fire, firefighters were able to bring out her dog’s ashes to her.

“That really meant so much to me,” she said.

Because the day was so bitterly cold, the Andover and Ramsey fire departments were also called in case the local department needed backup, said Anoka-Champlin Fire Chief Charlie Thompson.

This kind of cold weather is the most difficult for fighting fires, but it’s a common time for house fires.

“Usually fires are started by some kind of a heating source,” Thompson said.

He said it was fortunate the family was able to get the fire damaged area boarded up while the house was still warm and the furnace turned back on before the situation was made worse by frozen pipes.

Amanda said the home’s chimney, built in the 1970s, had been poorly designed and it was only a matter of time before something would go wrong.

“There was nothing we could have done, we were doomed,” she said.

The fire was fought from the outside of the home, so there was no damage from water or hoses inside.

The only things the family lost that cannot be replaced are a plant she had been growing for years and some wedding flowers, Amanda said.

“We really are very lucky and we’re just wanted to say thank you to the firefighters for what they did for us,” she said.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]