Wind carries fire from downed power line, 2 homes torched in St. Paul

The warmest day of 2015 thus far was accompanied by winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour that helped a quick-spreading fire destroy at least one home and severely damage another in St. Paul's North End. The fire was caused by a downed power line in the yard, and high winds ignited dried vegetation that spread to the house, the St. Paul Fire Department confirmed. There were no injuries.

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The fire broke out around 3 p.m. and crews responded to Front and Western avenues as it spread north in high winds across Front Avenue to a second home. Just before 4:30, the St. Paul Fire Department reported the fire was under control, but not yet fully extinguished. The home where the fire started was unoccupied and completely destroyed. The one next door at 402 Front Avenue houses a family of 10 and suffered heavy damage and was likely destroyed. Everyone got out safely.

St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard said the houses were very close together, the winds were "swift," and it was difficult to stand anywhere near them. Several firefighters had to withdraw from the scene due to smoke exposure and initiated a defensive attack.

One of the city's fire stations is located just a few blocks away from the scene at 225 Front Avenue.
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