UPDATED: Bodies of 2 children recovered from Liberty Township house fire near Bemidji

Two children were unaccounted for after a house fire broke out early Thursday near Bemidji, their bodies were recovered from the fire around 1 p.m.

Pony Lake Road Fire-2.jpg
Local emergency personnel responded to a house fire early Thursday morning, Dec. 23, 2021, in the 9000 block of Pony Lake Road NW in Liberty Township, located about 13 miles northwest of Bemidji. (Courtesy / Bemidji Fire Department)

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP -- The bodies of two children have been recovered from a house fire that broke out early Thursday morning in Liberty Township, 13 miles northwest of Bemidji.

According to a release from the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, at approximately 6:12 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 23, the Beltrami County dispatch center received a call of a residential fire in the 9000 block of Pony Lake Road NW in Liberty Township, located about 13 miles northwest of Bemidji.

Upon arrival, emergency personnel found the second floor of the two-story building fully engulfed. Initial reports indicated that two children living in the residence were unaccounted for and were possibly trapped in an upstairs bedroom.

Fire Chief Justin Sherwood said that firefighters located the bedroom window and attempted a rescue but were unsuccessful.

At 10:45 a.m., the sheriff's office announced that emergency personnel continued to search for possible victims at the scene. There were 45 firefighters working to put out the fire with 16 pieces of equipment, including members of the Bemidji, Shevlin, Solway and Blackduck fire departments. Bemidji Ambulance Service and Minnesota State Patrol also responded to the scene.


According to an update from the sheriff's office, shortly after 1 p.m., two bodies were recovered from the fire. The victims were transported to the medical examiner’s office for autopsy and identification.

Sherwood said that firefighters were on scene for more than eight hours and the house was deemed a total loss. No firefighter injuries were reported, but one adult female suffered injuries and was transported to the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families during this difficult time," Sheriff Ernie Beitel said in the release.

Assisting the sheriff’s office are three investigators from the Minnesota Fire Marshal's Office and Bemidji Fire Department.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation and no information is available at this time regarding the identities of those involved, the release said.

"A special thank you to Heroes Rise Coffee Company and area residents for supplying food, water and coffee to our responders," Sherwood said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all involved in today’s tragic event."

Annalise is the editor and a photographer at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is a Mass Communication graduate from Bemidji State University. Her favorite pastime is exploring the great outdoors and capturing its natural beauty on camera. Contact Annalise at (218) 333-9796, (218) 358-1990 or
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