Any fire is a tragedy, St. Paul’s fire marshal said, but the one that tore through a Cathedral Hill home on Tuesday was even more so: It gutted a stately mid-1800s mansion that the current owners had meticulously restored.
Two cats died in the fire, but no other injuries were reported. The home — owned for more than four decades by a couple in their 70s — was extensively damaged.
“They put a lot of heart and soul into” the home, said Alida Purmalietis, whose parents own the home at 251 Dayton Ave. “It’s a devastating fire.”
Firefighters were called to a “very, very large house on fire” across from the Cathedral of St. Paul at 11:34 a.m. Tuesday, said St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard.
Extra crews were needed and about 60 firefighters responded. Smoke was visible from miles away.
The fire apparently started on the three-story home’s second floor, which was full of flames. Firefighters were instructed to leave the house and attack the blaze from outside due to the fire being so heavy and the deteriorating structural conditions, according to Zaccard.
Later, crews went back inside but had to retreat a second time because of dangerous conditions as “the fire raged out of control,” according to Zaccard.
With the help of a lot of water, firefighters managed to extinguish much of the fire. Then they went inside to continue to fight hot spots.
“It’s being real stubborn,” Zaccard said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s a big house and it’s got a lot of hollow walls that the fire’s hiding in,…