Couple tries to recover from devastating blaze

FAIRMONT – In a tragedy, people in Fairmont can rely on the support of family, friends and neighbors. Such is the case for Teresa and Dan Berhow, who recently lost their possessions in a fire at their rented home along Tilden Street.

About 10:30 p.m. Aug. 14, the Berhows went to bed. Around midnight, Teresa awoke to a shock.

“It sounded like hail was hitting against the vents,” she recalled. “Very tinny noise.”

When she went to check it out, the weather was clear. When she got back into her bedroom, she noticed smoke. Meanwhile, Brad felt heat rising from the floor. In the next room, the lamp shade broke. She and Brad hustled to get out but the smoke had grown so thick they had to talk and feel their way.

Having left their phones inside, the Berhows sought help elsewhere.

First Teresa ran next door to an elderly neighbor who lives alone. Frightened by the constant doorbell ringing, the neighbor called the police. After not receiving an answer, Teresa ran down the street and yelled for help. Somebody was walking nearby, but that person kept going.

Teresa continued down the street and a car approached. She tried to flag down it down but the driver didn’t stop. She finally reached Kwik Trip and yelled at the employees to call the police because her house was on fire.

By the time she returned, the cops had arrived. The fire department also responded. Police contacted the Berhows’ grown children, who came to help right away.

Teresa had to be airlifted to Mankato to check her airway from all the smoke. When she got out of the hospital, her mom bought her a couple outfits for her to get by. The Berhows lost all their clothes because of smoke damage.

But what mattered most to Teresa was gone forever: the original print of her wedding day, certain valuable antiques, and things her kids made for her while they were growing up.

A few days after the fire, the Berhows went inside to observe the damage. Their white ceiling fan had totally blackened. In the basement, the smoke alarm melted and the fire had warped the pipes. It is believed the fire began in a dehumidifier in the basement.

The fire had climbed from the basement, but Teresa said it could have been more devastating. She had one thing she could be grateful for: A hutch, sitting in front of the basement door, had blocked most of the smoke, slowing down the flames as they climbed the stairs. The fire had burned the hutch’s entire back. Teresa believes that if not for the hutch, they might not have gotten out in time.

In the wake of the fire, Teresa noted classmates, friends and family in the community have offered moral support, and given gift certificates and cash, as well as helped clean up the house.

Currently, the Berhows are waiting for their insurance company to see what will be covered.

Those who wish to help the family recover can assist by giving to the Berhow fire fund at US Bank in Fairmont.