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Mike Nowatzki, Published January 01 2009

Taco Bell fire cause remains undetermined

The cause of a Dec. 21 fire that destroyed a north Fargo Taco Bell is undetermined and will likely remain so until the weather warms up or the insurance company comes up with a cause, a Fargo fire inspector said Wednesday.

Fire Capt. John Arens said the site of the burned down restaurant at 1599 19th Ave. N. remains covered in ice. Firefighters braved wind chills of 30 below zero to extinguish the blaze.

“There’s nothing to see,” he said.

However, a security camera that was running at the time of the fire may help determine the cause and origin, he said.

“The insurance company sent an investigator out, and apparently there is a recording device that was going, and they recovered that,” he said. “So, it might show something if they choose to go to the expense of trying to bring it in to some company to reclaim the recorder.”

It’s unclear when the site will be cleaned up. The restaurant’s owner, John Serati, has said he plans to rebuild at the same location. The answering machine at his office says the office is closed until Jan. 12 and messages won’t be returned until that time.

“From my understanding, they’re going to try and save that north part of the building to see if later they can go in and determine something” about the cause, Arens said.

“If they want to close it up and heat it up, that’s up to them, but I have no resources to do stuff like that,” he added.

The fire appears to have been accidental, Arens said. An employee noticed smoke and flames around a water heater in the restaurant’s mechanical room and called 911 from her cell phone around 8:30 a.m.

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