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Officials release cause of Bison Turf fire

FARGO - A July 22 fire that heavily damaged the Bison Turf bar and restaurant was likely caused by repair work done earlier that day, Fargo fire officials determined.

Fargo Firemen work the scene after the Bison Turf caught fire earlier in the day on Friday, July 22, 2016.David Samson / The Forum
Fargo Firemen work the scene after the Bison Turf caught fire earlier in the day on Friday, July 22, 2016.David Samson / The Forum
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FARGO - A July 22 fire that heavily damaged the Bison Turf bar and restaurant was likely caused by repair work done earlier that day, Fargo fire officials determined.

The Bison Turf, at 1211 N. University Drive, remains closed, though owner Pete Sabo has said he plans to rebuild the popular watering hole near the North Dakota State University campus.

Sabo said Monday that a structural engineer and architect he’s hired say the building is sound and  his plans for rebuilding and improvements can be done.

Sabo said he’s now hoping to reopen Oct. 1.

“But I haven’t gotten any confirmation on that,” Sabo said. “A lot of people have to look at it before it can go forward,” he said of his plans.

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VIDEO: Amid the loss, Bison Turf owner promises to rebuild after fire

He’d like to put a flat roof and a patio on the second floor.

“That’s going to be nice. It’s a beautiful view up there. The city has been very, very good about working with me on it,” Sabo said.

City officials recently said they want to see a wrecking crew take down the Turf.

“We’ve told the owner that, in the opinion of the city, it needs to be demolished. There’s over 50 percent damage,” Director of Planning and Development Jim Gilmour said a few days after the fire.
If Sabo does convince the city his bar doesn’t need to be demolished, he would have to bring the entire structure up to existing building codes, officials said.

Firefighters were called to the Bison Turf about 2:18 p.m. on Friday, July 22.

When they arrived, flames were leaping from the western roof of the building and a thick column of black smoke rose over the neighborhood bar and grill.

Sabo said he was at the Bison Turf when the fire started. He said he believes the fire was caused by some sort of electrical problem, likely with an exhaust fan in the kitchen.

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“We smelled it for four hours before the flames started,” Sabo said. “It was kind of a toxic smell like wiring burning.”

He said there was no smell coming from an area at the Turf where electricians were working that day.

Sabo said insurance adjusters said they thought the fire started somewhere in the furnace room, because that’s where it appeared the fire burned the hottest.

In a news release Monday, Fargo Fire Marshal Ryan Erickson said the fire started in an attic or void space “due to a smoldering fire, which was likely caused by repair work that was conducted earlier that day.”

 

Related Topics: FIRESFARGO
Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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