By Paul Walsh
It was behind an empty house.
Early Thursday morning, a body was found in a garage which had been burned down behind an empty home.
A Fire Department press release stated that firefighters were called to the garage located in the 700 Block of Jenks Avenue shortly after 4:00 a.m.
Within minutes of the call, firefighters found a person with “incompatible” burns.
Emergency medical personnel declared the victim dead on scene. The victim’s cause of death and identity will be determined by an autopsy on Thursday.
The statement said that if the autopsy determined the cause of death was a fire, it would be the second fire-related fatality in the city for 2023.
Roy Mokosso, St. Paul’s Deputy Fire Chief said that the garage belonged to a home in remodeling. Residents in the neighborhood have reported an increase in recent thefts. Property owners told authorities that their garage had been broken into multiple times over the past few weeks. This prompted them to cease fixing the lock. Mokosso says that such crimes are common during the winter months when people who do not have shelter seek out warmth.
Mokosso explained that people are forced to choose between cold weather and fires. No one should use a garage, shed or other permanent living or sleeping area. There is no fire protection. Smoke detectors are not working. “They’re not built for life, so they can cause serious injuries and even death in such situations.”
Not only did the fire cause the collapse of garage, but it also “caused significant heat and fire damages to nearby structures.” Burned wood and plastic reeked of smoke Thursday afternoon. Smoldering fires on site emitted smoke. The fire nearly melted two city trashcans, and also damaged metal on a trailer nearby.
The cause of the fire is still unknown. Investigators from the St. Paul Police and the state are helping fire officials to determine the cause.
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