Eagan Fire Victim Died of Smoke Inhalation, Medical Examiner Says

Another 58-year-old victim of the Sunday fire was still in critical condition Wednesday at Regions Hospital.

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Rodger Allen Yarusso, the 33-year-old victim killed in a Sunday townhome fire, died of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office.

The fire began around 6 a.m. on the first floor of Yarusso's residence, according to Eagan Fire Chief Mike Scott, trapping Yarusso and his two roommates upstairs. Yarusso's roommates, identified as Alan Marty, 58, and Matthew Haggerty, 30, were both injured after leaping from a second floor window to safety.

But Yarusso, they told police officers responding to the scene, was still trapped upstairs.

Marty, listed in critical condition, is being treated for his injuries at Regions Hospital, according to a hospital spokesperson. Haggerty was treated and released from Regions on Monday, according to a report in the Pioneer Press. The roommates sustained head, back and leg injuries from the fall, Scott said.

It took firefighters from three separate departments three hours to fully extinguish the flames engulfing the four-unit townhome complex located at 1527 Aspen Drive in Eagan. At one point, a medical oxygen tank used by one of the residents exploded, further complicating firefighting efforts, Scott said.

Emergency responders were able to evacuate a family of three from one unit and an adult male from another unit—none of whom sustained any injuries. But intense heat and flames stymied any other rescue attempts, Scott said.

“There was so much fire on the first floor and coming out of the second floors windows, and at that time, there was no way were were going to get in," Scott said.

By mid-morning, the flames were out, and emergency responders were able recover Yarusso's body.

Investigators have yet to determine what caused the fatal fire, Eagan's first since 2004, according to Scott.

It’s a very sad day for the family and friends of the victim, and a very sad day for us," Scott said on Monday. "You see it in the firefighters' faces, and you feel like you failed a little bit, but I’m not sure what else we could’ve done."


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