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Frost man dies in house fire

By Staff | Jun 21, 2008

Faribault County authorities say an “accidental electrical” fire claimed the life of 58-year-old Ronald Clarence Espeland of Frost Wednesday night at his home. The fire apparently started in the bedroom where Espeland was sleeping. About 25 firefighters, from the Frost, Bricelyn and Blue Earth fire departments were at the scene.

Faribault County authorities say a 58-year-old Frost man died in a fire at his home Wednesday night.

Ronald Clarence Espeland died at the scene, according to Sheriff Mike Gormley.

At 7:51 p.m. the county dispatcher received a report of a fire at 215 West First St.

When authorities arrived, flames were coming out of the bedroom window on the east side of the house.

Members of the Frost Fire Department responded and were assisted by firefighters from Bricelyn and Blue Earth.

“They had the fire under control by the time we got there,” Gormley says of the Frost firefighters.

In all, about 25 firefighters were at the scene.

The State Fire Marshal’s office was called to help determine how the blaze started.

Terry Campbell, an investigator with the sheriff’s department, says the cause was accidental and electrical.

“A series of power cords were connected together. And, there were no working smoke detectors,” says Gormley.

Authorities say the fire broke out in the bedroom of the one-level house where Espeland died.

An extension cord plugged into a window air conditioner, officials add, shorted out and started the fire.

Gormley says Espeland likely was a victim of smoke inhalation, but an autopsy was conducted Thursday.

“We want to make sure and confirm the cause of his death,” adds Gormley.

There were no dollar-loss estimates, but officials say the bedroom was destroyed and other areas of the house sustained heat and smoke damage.