Sherburne Co. woman dies trying to move cars out of burning garage

The 50-year-old leaves behind a husband and children.
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A woman is dead as the result of a house fire that broke out early Saturday morning near the city of Big Lake.

The blaze started at around 4:30 a.m. in the attached garage of the home, which was located in Orrock Township.

According to a news release from the Sherburne County sheriff, firefighters arrived to find a man outside the home unable to locate his wife; after they put out the fire, they found 50-year-old Nikki Abfalter dead in the garage.

"It is believed that she was attempting to move vehicles out of the garage after the Abfalters noticed smoke and flames in the garage," the release says.

Abfalter died of smoke inhalation and "thermal injuries due to the fire."

Her brother-in-law has set up a Facebook fundraiser seeking $20,000 to help the family deal with funeral expenses.

As of this writing, it's raised over $600 of that goal. 

The sheriff's office hasn't mentioned anything about the cause of the fire yet; however, winter is a particularly dangerous time for fires in Minnesota, with the State Fire Marshal's website noting that "most home fires occur in the winter" due to increased use of heaters.

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