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Helmut Schmidt, Published January 31 2009

West Fargo couple OK after fire damages home

A West Fargo couple escaped their home safely Friday morning when an attic fire caused significant damage to their home, said Fire Chief Roy Schatschneider.

Firefighters saw flames shooting from the attic and roof when they arrived shortly after 5 a.m. at the home of Randy and Ellen Olson, 325 6th Ave. E., Schatschneider said.

Schatschneider said Randy Olson told him he woke up and heard a crackling sound. When Olson investigated, he saw a dark spot on the living room ceiling and paint blistering.

“That’s when they realized they had a problem,” Schatschneider said.

The couple then left the home with their dog, Schatschneider said.

Firefighters used water from a tanker truck to fight the fire because a cap on a nearby hydrant couldn’t be removed, Schatschneider said.

It took 20 minutes to extinguish the fire, though firefighters were on the scene more than two hours to be sure no hot spots flared up, he said.

About 25 firefighters responded to the fire, working in below-zero cold, he said.

Schatschneider said the fire originated in the attic near the home’s front entry. He said he believes it may have been caused by an electrical short.

“We’ll send a crew back out to double-check later,” Schatschneider said. “We’ll be keeping a pretty close eye on it all day.”

Red Cross and the Salvation Army personnel were on the scene to help the family and fire crews.

The Red Cross said it provided the couple with emergency food and clothing.

Schatschneider estimated the fire did $50,000 in damage to the roof, attic and living room.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583