Police: Neighbor helped rescue woman from fatal Beloit fire

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Shelly Birkelo
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

BELOIT--A neighbor who heard people yelling for help from a burning home next door flopped a ladder against the house and helped a woman to safety, police said Wednesday.

Clint Christensen, 61, and Jamie Christensen, 33, died in the 3:53 a.m. blaze at 1950 Fairview Drive, Beloit.

Caren Christensen, 60, who escaped from a second-floor window, was in critical condition at an area hospital, Beloit police Capt. Bill Tyler said.

Clint and Caren were husband and wife, and Jamie was their daughter, Tyler said.

The state fire marshal has been asked to help investigate.

“We're still trying to determine origin and cause,” Tyler said late Wednesday afternoon. “There's death, and there's serious injury, so we want to leverage every resource we can to determine the cause of the fire. There's no outward indication of foul play at this point.

“You just don't want to miss something,” Tyler said. “You only get one shot at the investigation.”

Investigators believe all three people were asleep when the fire started, Tyler said. They don't believe anybody else was in the home.

Firefighters encountered heavy fire and smoke when they arrived.

“It was very hot and very smoky,” Tyler said. “Firemen did get in and did effect the recovery of two victims. The initial arriving officer did their best to do that.”

A neighbor who heard cries for help arrived at the home before emergency responders and put a ladder up to a window, where Caren climbed out.

“There was some conversation, but it's a highly emotional time,” Tyler said. “It wasn't as though she was being interviewed. She was being treated for injuries.”

He said Caren Christensen was taken to Beloit Memorial Hospital before being transferred to another area hospital for treatment of injuries.

“Those kinds of calls are tough on the families. They're tough on the responders,” Tyler said.

“You feel for the families. You feel for the responders.”

Tyler asked that neighbors who helped at the scene or others with information who have not spoken with investigators to call the Beloit Fire Department at 608-364-2900 or the Beloit Police Department at 608-364-6800.

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