Pair of $1 million homes go up in flames in Mahtomedi

A pair of sprawling lakeside homes just off the beach on White Bear Lake were destroyed early Friday (click on the picture above for a larger version of the scene).

One of the houses caught fire about midnight, according to Mahtomedi Fire Chief Terry Fischer. He said the fire started in the back of the house, and was spotted by a resident on the other side of White Bear Lake. The house was unoccupied, and was burning intensely by the time firefighters reached the scene.

"There were probably over 100 people, about six different fire departments," said Fischer. "It was pretty much raining cinders and burning embers. It was amazing, it probably 30-40 mile an hour gusts. We could have lost a lot more houses, just from the embers. We got lucky there. "

Neighbor Rick Noggle said he walked up his street "and it looked like a volcano of fire. I bet it was 100 feet high."

The homes sit on Park Avenue, and are listed for $1.7 million and $1.6 million, respectively. Property records show they were tear-downs in 2007, and neighbors said they were some of the biggest on the lake, both topping 4,200 square feet each.

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