Fargo man warns neighbors of smoke damage and potential toxins from senior home fire

FARGO — The parking lot was fenced off around Elim Rehab & Care Center Monday, Jan. 27, as crews worked to clean up after last Thursday's fire forced 111 people out of the home .

While the building itself had the most damage, the smoke spread to surrounding homes, including the home of Thomas Hoesley.

"There are many toxins and carcinogens given off (by fires like that), and I knew that I was going to have a problem," he said on Monday.

Hoesley was in his house with his wife Deb at the time of the fire when black smoke surrounded the entire street around their home.

Their house wasn't completely sealed and was contaminated the smoke, he said.


Inspectors from Servpro, a service that helps with property restorations after disasters like floods and fires, deemed the home too contaminated to stay in, something Hoesley said kept him out of his house for a night.

His home is still covered in soot from last week's fire, and Hoesley said he can pick up the leftover grime with a paper towel while rubbing down items around the house, like a framed picture on a wall.

"The black (dust) I guess is soot, the yellow, I think, is from the period of the yellow smoke," he said. "Anywhere I go in my home, I'll be able to find it."

The damage spread to his yard — which has a large garden — and also to his roof. Ashes on both parts of the house are now covered in snow.

Hoesley, who is a former toxicologist, said he's not just concerned for himself and pets, but for his neighbors.

"They've got little kids," he said. "There are kids in there, and (the area) was filled with smoke."

Servpro inspectors helped Hoesley clean his house and he was able to get back in the day after the restoration.

He said he doesn't yet know the cost of damages to his house, but he hopes to know sometime later this week after more inspections and cleaning.

Tanner Robinson is a producer for First News on WDAY-TV.
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