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6-year-old girl alerts family to early morning fire at northland home

A 6-year-old girl who woke up to find her pillow smoldering early Saturday alerted her family, helping them escape a fire that destroyed their rural Deer River home.

Kelly Nason and her three children, ages 5, 6 and 7, were asleep in their home on Itasca County Road 185 when the fire broke out at about 1 a.m., according to a neighbor, Courtney Schultz. The home is about four miles north of Deer River. Kelly Nason's husband, Orion Nason, was in Canada but flew home Saturday morning after learning about the fire, Schultz said.

The family told Schultz that their middle child,6-year-old Paige, discovered the fire when she woke up to find her pillow smoking. She awakened the rest of the family, and Kelly Nason got the children out of the house. She brought the children to another neighbor's house, and then returned to try to get the family's two dogs and two puppies out. Nason succeeded, Schultz said, but in the process severely burned one foot, and while running back to the neighbor's house cut her other foot.

Deer River firefighters and other personnel had arrived by then, Schultz said, and a police officer called an ambulance to take Nason to the emergency room. Schultz and her husband offered to watch the children until Nason returned.

"The middle girl was scared to go to sleep," Schultz said.

Nason returned at about 3:30 or 4 a.m. with her burned food heavily bandaged, Schultz said. The family went to a cousin's house to spend the rest of the night.

Schultz finally was able to contact Orion Nason about 6:45 a.m., she said. Meantime, she also was contacting the Northland Chapter of the American Red Cross about her neighbors' plight. Their vehicles were fine, Schultz said, but they had nothing else. She was concerned about the children needing back-to-school clothing and supplies.

"They were barefoot and in their pajamas," Schultz said. "They had nothing else. The Red Cross set them up very quickly with food and vouchers."

The Red Cross also provided four nights' lodging.

"It's just disheartening to see this happen to one of your good friends," Schultz said.

Deer River Fire Chief Steve Jurvelin said the fire was reported at 1:15 a.m. By the time firefighters arrived, the rear of the structure was in flames but the family was outside, he said.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.