Frazee resident offers displaced couple a home until spring

By Barbie Porter


On Saturday, Jan. 2, Tammy and Ronald “Arnie” Krejce lost everything in a fire. While their belongings were gone, within hours they had a community rallying around them.

The day everything changed came about with household chores. An hour or so earlier, Krejci had put a load of laundry in the washer and moved a load to the dryer. She was watching her grandson that day and he just laid down for a nap. Krejci thought a nap sounded good, but decided to check the laundry first. 

“I went back there and saw flames,” she said. “I called my husband and he grabbed the fire extinguisher, but it was already in the walls.”

A call to 9-1-1 was made, and during the 10 minutes it took for the fire department to arrive at 30624 Pleasant View Road, Ronald continued to battle the fire.

Frazee Fire Chief Joe Nelson said the call came in at about 2:50 p.m. When the first crew arrived the trailer home was fully engulfed so an interior attack was not an option. The firefighters fought from every corner of the house, and special attention was paid to a propane tank that was close to the structure. The fuel provided a heat source for the 3-bedroom home, but a serious danger to the firefighters. 

“We changed the pattern of a nozzle to a setting know as fog,” Nelson said. “It is a wider pattern of water and we used that to keep the tank cool.”

The firefighters turned the gas off and also created a curtain of water between the house and the propane tank.

Contributed photo
A fire destroyed the Tammy and Ronald Krejce home in Frazee on Jan. 2. The community has rallied around the family in the aftermath of the devastating fire. 

Luckily the temperatures were not frigid enough  to create extreme conditions, but Nelson said the snow cover is always an additional challenge. 

“When you’re dragging hoses in the yard, climbing over snow banks and the temperatures are cold, it doesn’t take long to get fatigued,” he said. 

The additional assistance from the fire departments in Vergas, Detroit Lakes and Perham were extremely helpful, Nelson said. 

“Everyone did a great job with what we were up against,” Nelson said. 

As the battle ensued, the Krejce family was asked to move to a safer location. The  Krejce’s understood, after all, their son was the assistant fire chief in Frazee before moving to Vergas and joining that fire department. They also have several other family members that are firefighters.

“We stayed for the whole thing,” Krejci said. “We saw that nothing could be saved. My son was overseas serving in Iraq and bought us a picture, it was in a frame and everything. That is gone now along with my grandparents china cabinet and the tools my husband’s father gave him.”

While the mementos from a loved ones are now only memories, Krejci was quick to note “we thank the Lord we are still alive though.”

As the Krejce’s stood devastated, Krejci’s boss from Laker Prep Early Childhood Center in Detroit Lakes provided a few nights stay at a local hotel.  

“The first few nights were tough,” she said, noting her husband is a diabetic, has COPD and suffers from sleep apnea, which requires he use the aid of a machine when he sleeps. “He said the next morning that he felt like he was having a stroke. Luckily, Whitney Sleep Diagnostics got us a brand new one.”  

The kindness from her boss, the Red Cross and the sleep assistance store were just a few of the many acts the Krejce family has seen since the fire. 

“It’s been overwhelming to have people who don’t even know us help us,” she said.

A fundraiser account was set up at United Community Bank, as well as Go Fund me, a meal train was created and area thrift stores offered clothes and household items when they were ready to begin the rebuilding process. They were even offered a house to live in until spring by a Frazee resident who had extra space. Krejci said they accepted the offer and planned to move over the weekend.

Frazee’s Neighbor To Neighbor is collecting donations for the Krecje family. Dontations can be brought to the Neighbor To Neighbor office at 405 West Maple Avenue, Frazee from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays. Calling beforehand is recommended, (218) 395-0464.

The Krejces plan to get bids for demolition and removal of their trailer home, as they hope to replace the trailer or build a home on the 3.5 acre plot of land.

“Our trailer had an addition with a bedroom, but it was an old trailer so we couldn’t get it insured,” Krejci said, adding they also had a pellet stove because they live on a set income.  

“We are still numb,” Krejci said. “But we are so very thankful for everyone who has sent us thoughts and prayers. Our community has really surprised us.”