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Dog wakes, saves Twig family before house burns down

Carrie and Dave Hansen of Industrial Township west of Twig embrace at the site of their home Wednesday afternoon. Their house burnt down Sunday night and the family was alerted to the fire by their dog Milo and no one was injured in the fire. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com1 / 3
Adrieona (from left), Aaron, Carrie and Dave Hansen of Industrial Township west of Twig with their dog Milo at the site of their home Wednesday afternoon. Their house burned down Sunday night and the family was alerted to the fire by the dog. No one was injured in the fire. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com2 / 3
Adrieona (from left), Aaron, Carrie and Dave Hansen of Industrial Township west of Twig with their dog Milo at the site of their home Wednesday afternoon. Their house burnt down Sunday night and the family was alerted to the fire the dog and no one was injured in the fire. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com3 / 3

Milo the pitbull was the only one smiling in the car — he was just happy to be getting scratches.

Petting him were Carrie and Adrieona Hansen, two members of his family, both wearing grim expressions. Displayed through their windshield was a smoldering heap of charred rubble and burnt metal, all that remained of their house that burned down Sunday night.

Located in Industrial Township about 6 miles west of Twig, the home suffered an estimated $750,000 in damage. There was no loss of life, however, thanks to Milo.

"You always hear how your dog will save your life," said Carrie Hansen, "and this dog; I just can't believe it."

Carrie and her husband Dave came home Sunday night from a relative's house, falling asleep before midnight. About a half-hour later, Milo jumped on Carrie and just stared at her. She said he had never done that before. After about two or three more times of ignoring his unusual behavior, she began to take notice of the smoke in the room.

After looking around the house, she assumed part of it had caught fire. Her first move was to wake up Dave, who had fallen asleep on the couch. After some confusion, they discovered the house hadn't caught fire just yet. It was in the garage.

"We were pretty sound asleep," Dave Hansen. "The fire alarm could have been going off, but if the dog didn't wake the wife up and the wife didn't wake me up, I still would have been lying there."

It wasn't long before the entire house was engulfed in flames. Dave tried putting out the fire, but it was already too late. The flames made their way into the roof, burning through the insulation and rafters, before catching onto the main structure.

Dave Hansen's livelihood is in his hands. He's a woodworker and a mechanic who builds furniture and fixes up cars for a living. Working odd jobs for friends and anyone who needs help on a project, he had recently just finished remodeling a workshop with every tool someone would need to tackle something that needed fixing.

"I put every dime I had into that shop because I used to have a trucking company and I quit doing that," Dave Hansen said. "Anyway, all the money I made this summer went into that garage."

Dave thinks the fire started when a spark from his pellet stove ignited an unprotected slab of wood attached to the appliance. He said he planned on placing a tin covering around the exposed wood sometime this summer, but never got around to it.

Now, there's not much still standing on the former 5,000-square-foot property. A cable exercise set is relatively still intact and the shell of a stove lies about 20 feet to its right. A Ford Sedan next to the carnage has scarring on the front half of the vehicle and its engine is exposed.

"That was a brand new Ford car," Adrieone Hansen said. "It is quite destroyed."

A little more than a day later Adrieone had taken point on raising money. Because the house was unfinished, it wasn't insured. In response, she set up a Gofundme and a Facebook charity group that has raised almost $4,000 in the two days its been up — a bright spot in an otherwise bleak first half of the week.

While Dave and Carrie have started planning for future housing, they'll also be wrestling with how to cleanup what's left of the house. Unless it's land that can't be used, Dave Hansen said he has every intention of rebuilding the home.

"It sucks to have to get more money, but whatever," Dave Hansen said. "There's always seems like someone has a job for me."

If you want to help

If anyone would like to donate to help rebuild the home, they can visit www.gofundme.com/hansen-house-fire to contribute money. The description also said "they are also in need of everyday household items (dishes, utensils, towels, etc.)" and anything offered would be helpful.

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