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Nevis couple loses everything in fire

James Tauber and his wife Remy lost everything last week in a rural Nevis fire except six of the family pets. They were uninsured. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

By Sarah Smith

James Tauber was just going to lay down for a quick nap late Wednesday afternoon when the Pomeranians started a hullabaloo of yipping.

He looked outside the window of his Ham Lake house and saw “nothing but flames.”

A canopy porch that held the couple’s dogs, new kitties and chickens, was engulfed in flames.

The wood frame house off 190th Street followed in short order. The fire could be seen for miles blazing in the sky, flames leaping above 50-foot pines.

Tauber’s wife, Remy, sprang into action as she herded her husband into the subzero cold.

“She went back twice with a bucket to round up the animals,” James Tauber said. She scooped up as many as she could coax out of the flames.

The second time was for her purse. “Too bad she didn’t get the keys,” James said.

Outside the house a row of cars and trucks lined the driveway entrance. All the keys to the vehicles were in the house.

It wasn’t long before the couple was waiting in an ambulance, watching their home go up in flames. They watched in vain as the mother cat dashed back inside after determining part of her brood was still there.

Akeley and Nevis firefighters fought hard to put the house out, but were no match against the frigid conditions and limited access to the structure.

The departments ran out of water, froze in the cold and zig-zagged their hoses in between the fleet of vehicles.

Two dozen firefighters and eight trucks could not stop the home from burning to the ground. Every one of the vehicles was saved.

Because it was a particularly cold night, Remy had placed a blanket over the heat lamp on the porch to keep the animals warm.

She didn’t count on the fact that the new kitties wanted to roughhouse.

The Taubers believe the lamp may have been knocked over, starting an eventual inferno.

Flames were still visible the next morning creeping up from the iced shell that remained of the house. The fire even rekindled Friday morning, sending firefighters back to the scene.

From the ambulance the couple could already survey their loss. One Pomeranian, the cat and numerous chickens didn’t make it out alive.

Taubers had no coats, no possessions except the two Pomeranians, three kittens and one chicken Remy managed to rescue.

They also had no insurance.

When the full impact of the loss hit them, Remy, who was recovering from a June stroke, was overcome with anxiety. She couldn’t do anything but weep.

The Taubers were put up at the Rustic Inn. A small fund from the Nevis Fire Department paid that expense. The Red Cross paid for a couple more nights.

Remy’s daughters raced in from Austin and Missouri to do what they could, getting their mother medication and keeping her calm and reassured.

The children set up a benefit fund at TruStar Financial that is taking contributions. It’s called the Tauber Family Benefit.

The family is overwhelmed with needs of cash, clothing, winter housing and a place for the animals. The kittens need immediate homes.

James Tauber wants to stay on the land he’s lived on for 20 years. An Illinois native, he loves the fishing in northern Minnesota.

Funds can be donated to TruStar Financial.

If people want more information, they can contact the daughters, Leighsa Peterson at 507-219-4056 or Jennifer Carlisle at 757-353-2186.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364