Second body found in Lucan fire

LUCAN – The bodies of two children have been recovered at the scene of a Wednesday house fire in rural Lucan, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said.

Authorities said the first child’s remains were discovered late Wednesday evening; the remains of the second child were found late Thursday afternoon. The names and ages of victims will be released once they are identified by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office, said DPS spokesperson Jen Longaecker.

The cause of the fire, which was reported by the homeowners on Wednesday afternoon, is still under investigation. Three investigators from the State Fire Marshal Division are on the scene, the Department of Public Safety said. On Thursday afternoon, investigators’ vehicles and a Lucan ambulance could be seen parked near the site of the fire. “Road Closed” signs blocked off the driveway to the property.

The blaze was reported at 2:35 p.m. Wednesday at the Bernadette and Matthew Thooft family residence, located on 250th Street, about a mile-and-a-half east of Lucan. The two-story, single family farmhouse was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, the Department of Public Safety said.

Two adults and several children were able to escape the residence without injury, Longaecker said. Two children were initially unaccounted for.

A Vesta firefighter responding to the blaze Wednesday was also injured, Longaecker said.

Neal Hansen was hospitalized in Mankato after he slipped and a tanker truck ran over his legs. Hansen has been with the Vesta Fire Department for a year, the Department of Public Safety said.

Firefighters from Lucan, Wabasso, Seaforth, Wanda, Vesta, Belview, Walnut Grove and Milroy, as well as the Minnesota State Patrol, all assisted at the scene, the DPS said.

The United Way of Southwest Minnesota will serve as a Marshall drop off location for donations to benefit the Thooft family.

The office is located at 109 S. 5th St., Suite 300, Marshall, in the RLC office building. Donations of gift cards would be helpful for the purchase of clothing, food, etc. Other needed items include: clothing, toiletries, non-perishable food items.

Furniture will also be needed. Contact the United Way of Southwest MN office regarding what you have with your contact information. When the family is ready for it, volunteers will pick it up and deliver it. Any questions, email unitedway@unitedwayswmn.org or call 507-929-2273.

– Deb Gau