The death of a 33-year-old man during a townhome fire on Sunday morning is Eagan's first fire-related fatality since 2004, according to Eagan Fire Chief Mike Scott.
Eagan resident Roger Yarusso was killed in the blaze, according to a Star Tribune report. Two of his roommates sustained head, back and leg injuries when they jumped from a second story window to escape the fire, Scott said.
The fire began in a first story living room around 6 a.m., Scott said. By the time emergency responders arrived on the scene, the structure—a four-unit townhome complex at 1527 Aspen Drive—was fully engulfed in flames.
Eagan police spoke with both roommates outside of the townhome complex. The men told police they jumped from a second story window after they woke up and smelled smoke in their townhome unit. But their roommate, Yarusso, was still trapped on the second story of the townhome building, they said.
Emergency responders were able to evacuate a family of three from one unit and an adult male from another unit—none of whom sustained any injuries. But intense heat and flames stymied any other rescue attempts, Scott said.
“There was so much fire on the first floor and coming out of the second floors windows, and at that time, there was no way were were going to get in," Scott said.
It took roughly 50 firefighters from Eagan, Mendota Heights and Apple Valley three hours to fully extinguish the blaze, Scott said. At one point, a medical oxygen tank used by one of the residents exploded, further complicating firefighting efforts, Scott said.
Cold temperatures also made firefighting more difficult, Scott said. To keep emergency responders warm during the hours-long operation, the fire department brought in a Minnesota Valley Transit Authority bus to serve as a warming station.
Firefighters eventually extinguished the flames and found a deceased victim, Yarusso, on the second level of the complex.
The Eagan Fire Marshall, Minnesota State Fire Marshall, Hennepin County Coroner's Office and the Eagan Police Department are all investigating. The origin or cause of the fire have not yet been determined, according to the news release.
"It’s a very sad day for the family and friends of the victim, and a very sad day for us," Scott said. "You see it in the firefighters' faces, and you feel like you failed a little bit, but I’m not sure what else we could’ve done."