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Fire rages through Minnetonka home, killing couple

A late-night, fast-moving blaze ravaged a Minnetonka home Friday night, killing a husband and wife inside.

Article by: NICOLE NORFLEET , Star Tribune

Updated: November 24, 2012 - 9:25 PM

A late-night, fast-moving blaze ravaged a Minnetonka home Friday night, killing a husband and wife inside.

Emergency crews responded to a report of a fire at a home on Westwood Road just north of Interstate 394 about 10:30 p.m., according to Minnetonka police. When they arrived, the single-family house was engulfed in flames.

After the fire was extinguished, two bodies were found inside the home. Friends and family identified the victims as Brian Humphrey, 78, and Sandra Humphrey, 76.

Neighbor Lorraine Besonen had been playing dominoes at her dining room table when she saw out her front window that the house across the street was on fire. It appeared that flames started from the northwest corner of the house, then spread to the rest of the home, Besonen said. "I just can't imagine a fire going so quick," she said.

Besonen, 77, had suspected that the pair was home because she had seen Brian Humphrey putting up holiday decorations in the morning and had spoken to him on the phone in the afternoon to ask him a plumbing question.

It took a couple of hours for the flames to be extinguished, Besonen said.

Minnetonka police, in cooperation with the state fire marshal, are investigating. Authorities said Saturday night that the fire appeared to be accidental.

Loved ones and others who knew the Humphreys said they were dedicated to their community and faith.

In a statement, their children said, "Our parents were amazing people who spent their lives reaching out to help others. We are so proud of the lives that they lived and if we even reach out to half as many people during the course of our lives, we will have lived excellent lives."

Besonen, who had been friends with the couple for more than 40 years, said: "The best part I remember about them is that they knew the Lord."

Sandra Humphrey was a retired clinical psychologist and children's book author. Her books often focused on empowering young adults as they faced such issues as bullying and struggles with identity.

Brian Humphrey, who used to work at SuperAmerica, was active in the Intercongregation Communities Association (ICA) Food Shelf in Minnetonka. In March, he helped spearhead a food collection drive to donate 2,000 pounds of food. He also participated in the Plymouth Christian Youth Center in north Minneapolis.

"I think they were inspirational," said Pastor Jay Rudi, who knew them through their work at Oak Knoll Lutheran Church. "Retirement was not a time to just kick back and relax. I think it was a time when they continued to use their talents for the betterment of the community."

Pastor Michele Abbot said the two were part of the "heart and soul" of the congregation, often going out of their way to help others.

"There was nothing too small that they couldn't do," she said.

Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495

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