Published On: Wed, Jul 6th, 2011

Area man dies in horrific fire

NEW ULM, Minn. — A horrific fire here Saturday has claimed the life of a Hartington man and two former Cedar County residents.
Andy and Sandy Uhing were guests at the Bohemian Inn Bed and Breakfast here when the historic Inn caught fire. Sandy Uhing was able to escape the blaze. Her husband, Andy, was not able to make it out of the burning house, however.

Uhing owned and operated Andy’s Upholstry for many years. He also served as the bus manager and a bus driver for Hartington Public School. Funeral arrangements for Uhing are pending with Wintz Funeral Home.
Sandy Uhing was released from the hospital and returned to her rural Hartington home Monday night where she is recovering from her injuries.
Her son, Bill Uhing, said she cracked a bone in her back, and suffered burns on her hand after trying to open the door to her hoom, but she is expected to be fine, he said.
The couple was vacationing with friends Joe and Dian Bergman at the time of the fire.
Bohemian Inn owner Bobbi McCrea and her two daughters, 15-year-old Abby and three-year-old Savannah, were also killed in the fire. Two other victims have yet to be identified, however, they are believed to be friends of the Uhings.
“I’ve never encountered an incident worse than this,” said New Ulm Fire Chief Paul Macho, “It’s the worst the New Ulm Fire Department have ever had.”
Four people escaped the fire. Uhing, who got out on her own, and three others who were pulled from the second floor by rescue personnel.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. The state fire marshal and the Fire Investigator from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are working with New Ulm Fire to investigate.
The New Ulm Police Department said the fire call came in at 1:44 a.m., Saturday, from a person driving past the house.
Macho said the fire appears to have started on the porch, and quickly climbed the side of the building before moving inwards.
“It was fast,” said Macho, “I’d guess it took 15 minutes before it was engulfed.”
He said that 33 members of the New Ulm Fire Department, along with a company and fire truck from nearby Sleepy Eye, responded.
“By the time we got there, the building was already well engulfed,” said Macho.

When New Ulm Fire arrived, the majority of the German Street side of the building was covered with fire. Working in two teams, firefighters made multiple attempts to pull people from the second and third floor. Four people were rescued, but firefighters were unable to rescue the other people still in the building because of the intense heat.

Hartington Public School Principal Russell Flamig said Uhing was always willing to help others.

“He worked hard for the school. He always did what you told him to and he always wanted to help people and he was always smiling,” Flamig said.

Macho said local firemen have heavy hearts this week.
“This is tough for us as well. We have 42 guys, and in a town like this, everybody knows everybody,” said Macho, “We’re in the business of saving people. When it doesn’t go right, there are a lot of sad faces and heavy hearts.”
Macho said they were lucky the Bohemian was made of older wood material, which is said to burn slower and allowed for more attempts to rescue people.

information for this report came from Cedar County News reports and from the New Ulm Journal and New Ulm Journal Staff Writer Josh Moniz.
Link to the New Ulm Journal web site here.