Moorhead man dies while trying to save boy who was on fire

MOORHEAD -- It's not yet known why Dane Tvedt died on Sunday when he saw a boy on fire in a backyard neighboring his north Moorhead home and ran to him to help.

Fire scene
Fire scene

MOORHEAD -- It's not yet known why Dane Tvedt died on Sunday when he saw a boy on fire in a backyard neighboring his north Moorhead home and ran to him to help.

Regardless of the cause of his death, it was tragic for Tvedt to die in the midst of trying to save another, said Lt. Tory Jacobson.

"That's a very heroic thing," Jacobson said. "Not everybody goes to danger."

His parents were right by his side as Tvedt leapt into action when he saw the 12-year-old engulfed in flames.

"He didn't even think twice," said Tommy Tvedt, Dane's father. "He didn't even bat an eye. He was just so bent on helping and getting there, doing something."


Police said Monday the boy, Devan Vanbrunt, was taken to a burn unit at a hospital in the Twin Cities. Jacobson said Vanbrunt's injuries don't appear to be life threatening.

An autopsy of Tvedt is being conducted at the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office in St. Paul, but the initial results weren't available on Monday, police said.

His father said Tvedt was healthy and had no known medical conditions, and it didn't appear he sustained a serious injury in the fall, police said. His death is, for now, a mystery.

"We're really going to need the medical examiner's help on this one," Jacobson said.

Vanbrunt fueled the accidental explosion shortly before 8 p.m. by pouring gasoline on a lit charcoal grill, Moorhead Fire Marshal Rich Duysen said in a news release. Criminal charges aren't being considered in connection with the blast, Jacobson said.

Tvedt and his parents were next door when the loud explosion rocked the neighborhood. They saw their son fall and figured he'd tripped.

But his breathing was shallow when they got to his side, and Tvedt soon turned purple. Paramedics tried to revive him, using shock paddles three times. He was pronounced dead later at MeritCare.

An empty bottle of lighter fluid for charcoal was in the backyard, Duysen said. He urged grillers to never use accelerants that aren't designed for charcoal or to pour fuel on hot briquettes.


When police arrived on the scene, Vanbrunt was in the shower trying to cool and cleanse burns on his upper body, officials said.

Duysen said it is not a good idea to run anywhere while on fire, but it was his understanding the fire was out by the time the 12-year-old was in the shower.

"If it were me or my kid, I would have done the same thing," he said.

A prayer service for Tvedt is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Boulger Funeral Home following visitation that begins at 5 p.m. The funeral is at 2 p.m. Friday at River Valley Church in Moorhead.

Some memorials already had cropped up Monday. At the McDonald's in Moorhead where Tvedt worked, a sign outside read, "We will miss you Dane."

That couldn't be truer for his family. His dad said they were proud of Dane, the middle of three sons. He recalled a happy, hard-working man who bought a house by the age of 19 and made many friends.

"He did his life right," Tommy Tvedt said.

Related Topics: MOORHEAD
What To Read Next
Fundraising is underway to move the giant ball of twine from the Highland, Wisconsin, home of creator James Frank Kotera, who died last month at age 75, 44 years after starting the big ball.
Mike Clemens, a farmer from Wimbledon, North Dakota, was literally (and figuratively) “blown away,” when his equipment shed collapsed under a snow load.