|Birth: ||Oct. 13, 1931, USA|
|Death: ||Sep. 24, 1965|
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Charles Birkeli was the first Minneapolis firefighter killed in fire ground action in seventeen years at the time of his death. He joined the Minneapolis Fire Department in 1956. On September 24th 1965 Birkeli and the other firefighters from the crew were working a fire line (hose) into the third floor of the four story building. Fire burst out all around them. The guys behind him retreated while Birkeli headed forward toward a window. He was almost there when the entire annex crashed down around him; his body was not recovered until some twelve hours later after a wrecking crew removed tons of rubble.
Birkeli's first brush with fame was in 1956 when he and other firefighters were called to a fire in a Minneapolis hospital. Eight patients were killed and the Minneapolis Fire Department made a number of spectacular rescues which kept the death toll down. Birkeli rescued two newborns from the nursery as seen in the posted photo here.
Birkeli was only 33 years old. He enjoyed playing softball and volleyball. He was on the softball team of the Minneapolis Fire Department and was the manager of the team in 1964. He also loved to play practical jokes on his fellow firefighters.
The Minneapolis Fire Department and the community lost a good friend. He was well liked and a friend to all in the fire service. I met him once back about 1963. I remember his kindness to me when I paid a visit to the fire station. He was married and had three small children. His widow Dolores Birkeli passed away early this year (2005.) Birkeli was a Corporal in the U.S. Army from 1951-1953 and was stationed in Korea.
(bio by: Steve Edquist ~In Memory Of Aaron & Scrappy~)
Dolores Dede Birkeli (1934 - 2005)*
Fort Snelling National Cemetery
Plot: Section M , Site 2152
GPS (lat/lon): 44.86459, -93.22276
Created by: Steve Edquist ~In Memory...
Record added: Nov 19, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 12412218