FARGO — It was an agonizing day for those with loved ones at a south Fargo senior care home as they waited hours wondering if everyone was safe after a four-alarm fire prompted an evacuation at the facility.
All Deeann Wanner and Kim Thomas could do Thursday night, Jan. 23, was watch as firefighters looked for hot spots at Elim Rehab & Care Center on University Drive South in Fargo.
"I'm a nervous wreck right now," Wanner said of her 94-year-old grandmother. "(I want) to find out how she is doing."
The two came to check on their grandmother, Esther, who lives at Elim Care and has been battling heart problems.
"(I'm) worried how she got out of there, she can't walk very well," Thomas said.
Hours earlier, it was a much different feeling for the granddaughters, as images of flames pouring out of the building began to show up on social media.
"My heart dropped to the ground," Wanner said.
Residents would be evacuated from the home into a chapel in the Elim Care complex and later taken to Eagles Elementary School.
Wanner and Thomas watched as meals and medicine were wheeled over to the school, where residents were being kept warm and safe. Residents wouldn't be released until new homes could be found and the two hoped to catch a glimpse of their grandmother through a window.
Senior home staff said the residents held up well during the fire and subsequent evacuation
"We prayed, we sang and they were really happy ... they've eaten (and) are well taken care of," said David Juve, chaplain and spokesperson for the home.
Fortunately, Elim had rehearsed a fire evacuation plan just a few weeks ago, Juve added. Fire officials said the plan was executed flawlessly, and there were no reported injuries to residents.
It remained unclear Thursday night where the 111 displaced residents will go, but the home was working with state and county officials to find places for them to stay, Juve said.
Until officials could find a new home, Wanner and Thomas waited to be reunited with their grandmother.
"I can't go home until I see her," Wanner said.
Families can check in on residents by calling 701-371-5698 or 218-443-4265.