Howard Street fire

The charred remains of a house on East Howard Street are seen Monday morning in Winona. The Winona Fire Department was called to the scene at approximately 2:30 a.m. Sunday and found a 68-year-old woman inside.

A 68-year-old Winona woman died in a house fire early Sunday morning.

The Winona Police Department said the body of Jean Ann Jacob was discovered by Winona Fire Department search crews in a one-story residential building in the 50 block of East Howard Street.

Winona Fire Chief Kurt Bittle said the fire department was dispatched to the scene at 2:26 a.m. Sunday, with an initial report of a fully involved house fire with occupants still in the house.

Bittle said that more than 20 firefighters responded. The state fire marshal and the fire prevention bureau are investigating the cause.

Bittle said that it was the first fire fatality in Winona since he took over as fire chief in 2013.

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A 22-year-old male was also in the home and awakened by people pounding on the house yelling "fire," according to a release from the police department. He was able to escape from the house uninjured.

Bittle stressed that all Winona residents need to take precaution

“We’ve had some real close calls with three or four previous fires this winter,” Bittle said. “I truly believe that everyone needs to take an extra second to make sure they’re going everything safety wise they can.

“It’s important for everyone to take an extra second to think of fire safety when it comes to the house. Think of escape routes, escape routes for children.”

Bittle said the Winona Fire Department offers residential home inspections for free. Call the Central Station at 507-457-8266.

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