Litchfield House Fire 17 Feb 14

An electric heater used to heat a porch is the suspected cause of an early morning house fire discovered by a passerby Sunday morning southeast of Litchfield.

According to the Meeker County Sheriff’s office, a Hutchinson man was driving by the address of 23299 650th Ave.around 6:30 a.m. and noticed the fire.

The passerby, Mark Johnson, also notified authorities that the homeowners, 74-year-old Darrell Walberg, and 72-year-old JoAnn Walberg, of Litchfield, were out of the residence and in a vehicle in order to stay warm.

By the time officers from the Sheriff’s Office and the Litchfield Police Department arrived, the single story home was fully engulfed.

Both Walbergs were taken to Meeker Memorial Hospital. Darrell Walberg was later taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center Burn Unit for further treatment of his injuries.

The house and property were valued at $200,000 and were deemed a total loss. A garage near the house also sustained minor damage due to the heat from the fire.