Man watches house burn, thinks about do-over moments

Within the last week or so, John McNallan’s insurance agent asked him if he wanted to put some fire insurance on his house in Millville, Minn.

“I told him, ‘I’m almost 70 years old. If I haven’t had a fire by now, I probably won’t have one,'” McNallan said.

You can probably figure out what happened next.

He had mistakenly dropped a bread bag’s twist-tie into his toaster and when he dropped in some frozen waffles a day later, “Snap,” he tells the Rochester Post-Bulletin, “and white flames, right away.”

“I cook a lot with olive oil,” he said Saturday afternoon, standing near the rubble of his home just west of Millville. “I’m sure it was that bread tie that shorted the toaster,” igniting oil that likely remained on the stove top.

McNallan, who’d left his cell phone in his bedroom, drove to the home of a neighbor, who called 911. They drove back to McNallan’s house, which by then had flames coming out the windows of the attached garage.

Firefighters from Zumbro Falls, Lake City, Elgin and Plainview responded; McNallan’s daughter-in-law arrived soon after.

“She and I sat over by that fence and watched her burn,” he said of the house he’d built in 1969.

McNallan says he’s been thinking of all the do-over moments of the last few days.