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Published November 15 2007

Cause of fire that destroyed candidate’s home will remain undetermined

Investigators were unable to determine the cause of an Aug. 19 fire that destroyed the home of Matt Mechtel, a rural Page, N.D., farmer and former candidate for Congress, state Fire Marshal Ray Lambert said.

No one was injured in the blaze, but Mechtel lost his personal belongings. His father owned the house, which was insured.

Mechtel said at the time that he had attended a church service in Fargo that evening and returned to the farmstead to find smoke billowing from the house’s sewer vents.

Lambert said investigators determined the fire started in a game room in the southwest area of the house, but they were unable to determine how the fire started – including whether foul play may have been involved – because of the extensive damage, he said.

“We just don’t have enough factual evidence to support a call in this case,” he said.

Cause of fire that destroyed candidate’s home will remain undetermined 20071115