Arson suspected in Winter Ave. fire

Published 3:32 pm Sunday, November 18, 2012

An abandoned home on Albert Lea's Winter Avenue burned Sunday afternoon. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

A condemned home burned Sunday afternoon on Winter Avenue in Albert Lea in what was a suspected arson.

Albert Lea police and fire authorities said they suspected arson because there was no electrical or gas hooked up to the abandoned home.

Neighbors have reported seeing teens in and out of the house in the past, according to police. An arson investigation team will meet and look at the home. More information is expected to be released after that happens.

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The large two-story home, at 318 Winter Ave., was reported burning around 2:30 p.m. Albert Lea firefighters and police responded, and more firefighters responded in the next half hour as the flames spread.

Flames were first seen in what looked like an attic space above the second floor. The roof eventually caved in around 2:50 p.m. as flames spread in the second floor.

Firefighters battle a blaze at 318 Winter Ave. in Albert Lea on Sunday afternoon. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

The abandoned home had previously been condemned by the city of Albert Lea for its structural integrity. However, the house is owned by Freeborn County as a result of it being a former meth lab. Albert Lea Police Chief Dwaine Winkels expects that the home will be demolished, hopefully within a few weeks. No one was reported hurt in the fire.

South winds of about 15 mph fueled the flames northward; fortunately, an abandoned rail corridor is on the north side of the house, rather than another home. The space aided firefighters on a ladder truck in dousing the flames.

Alliant Energy personnel responded around 3 p.m. to sever the wires leading to the home. On the 60-degree afternoon a crowd of more than 50 people gathered to watch firefighters battle the blaze. They stood on Winter Avenue, Summer Avenue and Dunham Street, as well as the former rail corridor.

Look to the Tribune for more information on the fire as it becomes available.

Click here to see a gallery of photos.