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17-year-old credited with saving family from burning home in Audubon

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region Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Enterprise
(218) 732-8757 customer support
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

The Audubon fire chief is calling a 17-year-old boy a hero for getting his family out of a burning mobile home early Saturday morning.

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"He was brave enough to go back in and get his family out of the house -- it was fully engulfed in 20 minutes," said Audubon Fire Chief Darcy Savig.

Seventeen-year-old Devin Campbell said he woke up about 3:30 a.m. Saturday, coughing on smoke.

"He got up, got out of bed and noticed it was sort of smoky in the room. He opened up a door to the kitchen and it was fully engulfed -- he couldn't go that way," Savig said.

"I started coughing, then I heard all the fire alarms," Devin said. "I woke up and I could see the wall on fire -- it was covered in flames."

"I didn't want to wait around," he said. "After 10 or 15 minutes, it (the house) was all gone."

The teen broke out a bedroom window using a radio. It took several tries to break the window glass, and the noise helped wake his mother in another part of the house, he said.

He suffered minor cuts and scratches as he crawled out the window, and ran around to the front door -- calling the 911 emergency dispatcher at the same time on his cell phone.

A smoke alarm was going off but it did not wake the other family members, Savig said.

Devin went back into the burning mobile home through the front door and tried using a fire extinguisher to put out the flames, but the dust just made him cough more, he said. At the same time, he was yelling for everyone to wake up.

His mother, Tasha, said that thanks to Devin, everyone got out of the house safely.

That includes her partner Terry Goldberg, and Devin's brother, 15-year-old Trevor.

Another brother, Christian, was camping with friends that night and wasn't home.

Tasha said she has 10 children, but the others are not presently living with her.

"We're really lucky that nobody was hurt," Tasha said.

The family cat also got out safely, but hasn't been seen since. It bolted out of the family van and ran under the burning trailer, but the family hopes it escaped into the woods.

The mobile home is located on 230th Avenue, on 10 acres near Forest Hills golf course, a few miles west of Detroit Lakes.

The mobile home is considered a total loss.

"The fire got so hot it snapped all the power lines above it," Devin said. "It melted the bikes, it got the small propane tank on the grill. They (firefighters) were trying to keep the big propane tank in back from blowing up."

The fire is believed to have started in an electrical outlet in the kitchen, in the northeast corner of the mobile home, and the fire was fed by a fairly strong wind from that direction, Savig said.

An investigator with the state fire marshal's office talked to the family Saturday, and learned that there had been problems with an electrical outlet in a shared wall between the kitchen and Devin's bedroom.

Audubon firefighters were on the scene about four hours, with mutual assistance from Detroit Lakes firefighters. A crew from St. Mary's EMS was also on the scene.

The family lost everything in the fire -- clothing, appliances and keepsakes.

They are staying for a few days at the America's Best Value motel in Detroit Lakes. The Red Cross provided some assistance and The Refuge plans a fund-raiser for the family, Devin said.

"I'd like to thank everybody who helps us out," he said. "People have been helping, trying to get us clothing and everything."

A fund for the family has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank under the name "Campbell."

For now, the family is homeless.

"That's going to be the tough part -- finding a five-bedroom house," Tasha said.

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