Fargo man likely died before being burned in February basement fire

Burnt body scene
Police were dispatched to this south Fargo home on Feb. 22 and found a dead man who had been severely burned. WDAY photo

FARGO — A fire in a Fargo home where a man was found dead was likely accidental and started after the man died of natural causes, according to investigators.

Ronald Alvin Gant, 61, was found dead and badly burned in the basement of a Fargo home, 1809 30th Ave. S., on Feb. 22, when the homeowner returned from a vacation to a house filled with smoke.

Fire officials later found that heat from unattended smoking materials on a side table near Gant were the source of the fire, and found no evidence of foul play. An earlier report said there was no evidence of smoking in the home, but later investigators would find a cigarette lighter, tweezers and an item that resembled a pipe.

The fire report doesn't say exactly how Gant died, but describes the cause as "natural." Fire officials found no evidence of Gant attempting to escape the fire and his burns are described as happening after he died.

Investigators didn't find any evidence of someone forcibly entering the house.


Gant, who was living with the property owner, served nearly 30 years in prison for stabbing his wife to death in Grand Forks in 1982.

He pleaded guilty in 1983 to murdering his wife, Mary Louise Gant, and was sentenced to 43 years in prison. He was released in 2011.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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