28 people displaced by Fargo apartment fire
The call came in just after 11 p.m. Wednesday, May 11.
FARGO — A fire ripped through a 12-unit apartment building late Wednesday, May 11, displacing the 28 tenants who live there, according to Fargo Fire Department officials.
Fire crews were dispatched at 11:11 p.m. to the building at 605 11th St. S., between South University Drive and 10th Street in the Hawthorne neighborhood.
"When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting from the roof of the building and tenants of the building were rapidly evacuating," fire officials said in a statement.
Firefighters extinguished the flames in just under an hour.
"Eight cats were found and removed from the building, all unharmed and reunited with their owners," fire officials said. No people were injured in the blaze.
Alarms didn't wake up resident Christian Hanson, who lived in a basement apartment for the past year.
"Someone came by and smacked the window. It wasn't a love tap," Hanson said.
He awoke to a nightmare of flashing lights and dense smoke, and his first thoughts were of his pets, Toby, the "fat cat," and Molly, a German shepherd. His second thought, aside from getting out, was that he would have to move, he said.
Quickly, he put Toby, who was frightened, into a laundry basket. Molly followed orders, and they emerged from the front of the building just as firefighters began to fight the blaze.
"We woke up in the middle of it all, and the firefighters even asked me what I was doing in there. I said that we had just woken up," Hanson said.
The yard in front of the apartment complex was like a maze of firetrucks and fire personnel, he said. Across the street, the residents gathered to watch and wonder what would come next.
After getting a few hours of sleep, Hanson said he was tired and had an extreme headache, most likely from the smoke, but otherwise was in good health.
The apartment complex, managed by Braaten Properties, is currently unlivable, said manager Jordan Crouse.
"Everybody got out well, and we made sure everyone got a place last night and all the pets got out," Crouse said, adding she was unsure when residents would be able to move back in.
She declined to answer additional questions, as the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Renae Simmons lives with her family three blocks away from the apartment complex. Late Wednesday, she opened the windows to her upstairs bedroom and remembered smelling smoke around 11:20 p.m.
"Smoke was pouring in. It was worse than the forest fires, and it was a little difficult to breathe," Simmons said. "I felt bad for the people down the street."
The apartment building will need extensive repairs before tenants can live there again, fire officials said. A preliminary damage estimate was not available Thursday morning.
The fire started in the attic of the apartment building, then spread to several other areas of the top floor and below, according to Capt. Ryan Viergutz.
After the fire was extinguished, crews continued to monitor the building for hot spots overnight.
The Fargo Fire Department responded to the blaze with five fire engines and an aerial ladder. Firefighters from Moorhead also responded.
The Salvation Army came to the scene to provide assistance, and the American Red Cross is helping the tenants with temporary lodging.