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Man escapes Fargo fire

The smell of smoke awoke Jedediah LaCroix from his afternoon nap. He checked the heat register, but didn't' see anything, so he went toward the door. "I opened the door and there was nothing but flames and smoke, so I fell down the stairs and out...

389 Eighth Ave. South

The smell of smoke awoke Jedediah LaCroix from his afternoon nap.

He checked the heat register, but didn't' see anything, so he went toward the door.

"I opened the door and there was nothing but flames and smoke, so I fell down the stairs and out the front door," the 29-year-old Fargo man said Wednesday afternoon as he watched his downtown home burn.

Seven Fargo firefighting units, including a ladder truck, responded to the blaze at 389 8th Ave. S. about 3:30 p.m. Moorhead crews were standing by as firefighters waged a battle inside the 128-year-old home.

The house, built in 1880, contains four living units and is located to the south of Prairie St. John's.

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Thick smoke billowed from the house, painting the air gray. Flames shot from the peak of the roof and shingles were quickly falling as firefighters aimed hoses at the home.

Traces of smoke were visible in downtown Fargo while crews were dispatched to the scene.

When firefighters arrived, they found the second floor in flames and were able to knock most of that fire down, but had a hard time getting to the third floor, Fargo Fire Marshal Norm Scott said.

"It's very difficult to get up there and we want to try to get in the building and push the fire out versus put the fire out from the outside because that kind of drives the fire back in," Scott said while on scene.

Acting Assistant Fire Chief Gary Lorenz said a cause for the fire was not known Wednesday night. It took at least an hour to get the fire under control and fire crews remained on scene into the evening to watch for hot spots and investigate, he said.

The Minn-Kota Chapter of the American Red Cross assisted the four families living in the house with emergency food, clothing and accommodations.

There is a lot of wood throughout the building, LaCroix said, adding he is grateful that his 4-year-old son was not home at the time of the fire. He was staying at his mother's house at the time.

"Thank God," LaCroix said.

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Forum reporter Benny Polacca contributed to this report. Readers can reach Forum reporter Brittany Lawonn at (701) 241-5541

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