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Home destroyed by fire in Laporte

LAPORTE -- An 80-year-old woman's home was destroyed by fire on Thursday in Laporte. This is the second house to be consumed by fire in Hubbard County this week.

According to the American Red Cross, a first responder on the scene said the house "blew up and burned down."

The homeowner, Eileen Widener, was outside when the explosion occurred, but rushed inside to retrieve two dogs. Abby, a rat terrier, was rescued. Widener's pug, Charlie, perished in the fire.

Widener's neighbor, Connie Greenway, brought her to the emergency room at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, where she was treated for burns to both her hands.

"The local people are really stepping up to help," said Lynette Nyman, American Red Cross Communications and Government Relations Manager. Greenway saw the black smoke and fire from her house next door on the 43000 block of 315th Avenue.

"It went up like a tinder box," Greenway said.

The American Red Cross is helping Widener with emergency aid. She has been provided a three-day stay at the Best Western in Bemidji. Following tragedies such as fire, tornadoes and floods, the Red Cross provides disaster relief in the form of shelter, clothing, food, health services and emotional support. To donate to the Red Cross, visit, call (800) 733-27677 (RED-CROSS) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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