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Mike Nowatzki, Published May 14 2008

Chimney blamed for blaze; Moorhead police officer alerts couple to fire in roof

UPDATED 3:03 p.m.

A Moorhead police officer on patrol early Wednesday smelled smoked and alerted a couple to a fire in the roof of their home at 430 Dale Ave.

The blaze caused extensive damage to the roof of the house and displaced the couple, said Moorhead Assistant Fire Chief Clay Dietrich.

No one was injured.

The fire was caused by heat from the fireplace chimney igniting ceiling joists in the attic space, Moorhead Fire Marshal Rick Duysen said.

Officer Clint Stephenson detected a strong smoke odor at 1:26 a.m. and saw flames coming from the area around the chimney of the single-story home, officials said.

Stephenson knocked on the door to try to wake Edward and Joyce Westfall, who were home at the time. When they didn’t respond, he kicked the door open and saw the couple coming toward him and escorted them out of the house, Lt. Brad Penas said.

Firefighters also rescued a pet parrot from the fire.

“We had fire pretty much throughout the roof system when we arrived there,” Dietrich said.

The main floor also suffered damage from water and from firefighters trying to reach the flames, he said.

A damage estimate wasn’t available. The Westfalls have homeowner’s insurance, and an adjuster was assigned, Duysen said in a news release.

The American Red Cross is assisting the couple with lodging, food and clothing.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528