Couple recalls events of house fire

Published 11:05 am Thursday, March 27, 2014

ALDEN — Bruce Niebuhr and his wife, Wendy, were visiting with their daughter Tuesday night when they received a phone call from a friend, who is a member of Alden’s fire department.

“He said, ‘What’s going on out there? We just got a fire call to your house,’” Bruce said.

The couple hadn’t been home since at about 6 p.m. when they left to go to their daughter’s house, which is about two miles southwest of their own home at 21751 620th Ave.

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When the call came at about 10 p.m., Bruce said he and Wendy got in their car and raced back to their rural Alden home, beating the firefighters there.

“It was fully engulfed,” he said.

Firefighters from Alden, Freeborn, Conger, Wells, Walters, Manchester, Minnesota Lake, Albert Lea Township and Kiester fire departments ultimately responded to provide water to fight the blaze, said Alden Fire Chief Jim Thunstedt. Gold Cross Ambulance crews were also on hand as a precautionary measure, but no one was treated or transported from the scene, he said.

In the end, the house was a total loss. The couple’s business,



B&B Pallets, which is also on the property, was not damaged.

Bruce said though he is grateful he and his wife and all of the firefighters were not injured in the fire, he is saddened to know the blaze destroyed many family heirlooms.

“All I thought of was the memories we had out there from our grandparents and great-grandparents,” he said. “It’s all gone. It kind of tears you up when you know your family entrusted you with that, and you blew it.”

The couple had lived in the house for 23 years.

Bruce said it is too early to tell whether they will rebuild, as they are awaiting results of the investigation by the county’s fire investigation team and the state fire marshal’s office.

County investigators were scheduled to visit the property late Wednesday evening, while a representative from the state fire marshal’s office is not expected to be there until Friday, Thunstedt said.

The fire chief said what’s left of the house was taped off as a precautionary measure because it is not structurally sound.