MANTORVILLE — A 68-year-old woman died in an early morning fire Thursday, Feb. 4, in an apartment building here that brought out four area fire departments to fight it.
Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose identified the woman as Cynthia Ferguson. Her cause of death was unknown as of Thursday afternoon.
According to Rose, the call came in at 6:37 a.m., and deputies were on the scene two minutes later at the Chestnut apartment building in the 500 block of Chestnut Street in Mantorville.
When law enforcement arrived, heavy smoke could be seen coming from the building, and several residents were on the phone with dispatch saying they were trapped inside the building, he said. Sheriff's deputies and Kasson police officers were first on the scene and evacuated five individuals from the building before fire crews from Kasson and Mantorville arrived a few moments later to help.
In addition to the death, five people were taken to Mayo Clinic Hospital-Saint Marys Campus in Rochester, with at least one person in critical condition, Rose said. All five were being treated for various levels of smoke inhalation, Rose said in a news release shortly before 5 p.m.
The fire started on the first floor in the northeast corner of the apartment building, and the north half of the building is a complete loss.
While the fire was put out shortly after 8 a.m., Rose said crews were continuing to search for hotspots and other victims as a precaution past 9 a.m. By 10:20 a.m., the sheriff reported that all residents of the building had been accounted for.
A school bus was set up as a shelter for displaced residents as the snow fell, but the bus was empty. By 9 a.m., the nearby First Congregational Church was opened in case residents needed a place to stay warm.
Firefighters from Byron, Dodge Center and Kasson were called for mutual aid support. Ambulance crews from Mayo Clinic Ambulance, Dodge Center Ambulance and Hayfield Ambulance also responded to the scene, as did Minnesota State Patrol officers.
The state fire marshal's office was on the scene helping the Mantorville Fire Department with investigation of the cause. The fire started in apartment number 5, Rose said. The cause of the fire will be determined by the state fire marshal's office.
Both SEMCAC and the American Red Cross were helping find temporary shelter for individuals or families displaced by the fire.