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11:05 a.m. Update: Worthington Fire Department fights early morning blaze

WORTHINGTON — Firefighters were on the scene of an early morning pickup and garage fire for more than an hour Tuesday, battling a blaze through bitter cold wind chills. By the time it was over, the house was saved and its seven occupants were safely seated inside their family van across the street.

The Worthington Fire Department was paged to the Brian and Amy Dykstra home at 1511 Hillcrest Ave., at 3:15 a.m. — minutes after Brian noticed an orange glow outside the home and yelled for his family to get out.

“He saw that his pickup was on fire,” said Amy Dykstra. “We had to get everybody in their shoes and get out of the house.”

The Dykstras have five children, including two sets of twins — the youngest are age 7.

Just as Amy and the children were going outside, Brian called 911. Worthington Police arrived moments later, and firefighters were on the scene within a couple of minutes, she said.

“They got it under control pretty fast,” Amy said.

Worthington Fire Chief Rick von Holdt said he isn’t sure exactly how the fire started. The pickup was a diesel, and it was plugged into a block heater.

“We’re not sure if it was a faulty block heater, or engine heater that caused the fire — we’re just not sure,” he said.

Firefighters were able to contain the blaze through an opening in the roof, stopping flames before they spread to the attached house.

“It wouldn’t have been much longer before it reached the attic,” von Holdt said.

Firefighters were on the scene until approximately 4:30 a.m. By then, officials with the Southwest Chapter of the American Red Cross were assisting the family with emergency needs. The Dykstras were provided emergency shelter for three nights in a local motel, as well as immediate financial assistance for food.

Meanwhile, Brian Dykstra said Tuesday morning he was having difficulty finding a cleaning company to come in and begin work inside the smoke-damaged home. With the holiday, he didn’t anticipate getting anyone to come until Thursday at the earliest.

As he surveyed the damage Tuesday morning, Brian said he thought the Gator and the four-wheeler would be OK, but he lost four portable fish houses and 25 to 30 fishing poles,

 “I’m just getting here and starting to look at stuff,” he said, noting that his shop vac and a 6-foot step ladder were also destroyed. “If it was plastic, it melted.

“In the garage, anything above eye level was damaged,” he added. “In the corner of the garage where the fire was at, we lost quite a bit.”

Totes and various items still lined the driveway Tuesday morning, and ice covered the driveway and the street.

“We thank the firefighters and the Red Cross and the police for their assistance,” said Amy. “They all did a great job. We really appreciate everything.”

von Holdt encourages everyone to take safety precautions in their home, particularly this time of year. He reminds the public not to overload circuits and make sure there are no frayed cords.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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