FARGO — A fire that burned through the southern half of a south Fargo strip mall Tuesday afternoon, May 11, severely damaged a physical therapy center and a business serving people with Down syndrome.

There were no civilian injuries, but a firefighter suffered a minor injury, according to a report released by the Fargo Fire Department.

At 1:21 p.m. Tuesday, emergency dispatchers received a report of a fire that broke out in the attic of Bodyworks Physical Therapy, 3242 20th St. S., a business at the south end of a strip mall just off of 32nd Avenue South.

The fire then started to burn northward through the attic of the strip mall, according to Fargo Fire Marshal Ryan Erickson, who said the fire spread quickly due to dry conditions in the area. Flames could be seen rising through the roof as heavy smoke billowed into the air.

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Officials classified the blaze as a three-alarm fire as crews from Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead responded to the scene.

A firefighter sprays water on a working fire Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in a strip mall at 25th Street and 32nd Avenue South, Fargo. 
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
A firefighter sprays water on a working fire Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in a strip mall at 25th Street and 32nd Avenue South, Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

The fire burned into the neighboring GiGi's Playhouse, a business that describes itself as an "achievement center" for individuals with Down syndrome from birth to adulthood, but a firewall in between GiGi's and another business slowed the spread further north, Erickson said.

However, Battalion Chief Lee Soeth said Tuesday night that the fire did follow utility ducts to a mechanical room beyond the fire wall but fire damage was limited to the utility area.

He said there was still heavy water damage in the businesses adjoining the fire wall.

Just one staff member was in GiGi's playhouse at the time of the fire, according to WDAY-TV. When crews arrived, everyone in the mall had gotten out safely, Erickson said.

The blaze, which burned through the roof of Bodyworks and GiGi's and extensively damaged the businesses, was mostly out by 2:40 p.m.

Fire officials said the cost to repair the damage has not been estimated, though they said one half of the strip mall building will need to be rebuilt completely.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Businesses in the north half of the strip mall, including a Dairy Queen restaurant, closed following the fire. It was not immediately clear when they would open again.