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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published October 15 2010

Fire flashback: The largest fires in the Fargo-Moorhead area

Many people have said that Monday’s massive five-alarm fire at the Galleria On 42nd apartment building in south Fargo was the largest they’d ever witnessed.

Here’s a look other notable fires in Fargo-Moorhead’s history from Forum archives.

  • Feb. 19, 2010: A fire at a three-unit Moorhead apartment at 901 9th Ave. S. kills Megan Londo and John Cadotte. Tracy Alan Zornes has been charged with their deaths.

  • Aug. 7, 2008: Fire destroys two West Fargo apartment buildings under construction at the 3000 block of Seventh Street West.

  • Nov 2, 2004: Moorhead fire claims the lives of Hosea and Emma Rose at 1311 3rd Ave. S. An investigation determined that the fire started on the kitchen stove.

  • Dec 22, 2002: Two separate fires in Fargo and Moorhead claim the lives of 4-year-old Moorhead boy Austin L. Olsen and 11-year-old Fargo boy Bryson Coleman.

  • Oct. 21, 2000: A two-alarm fire destroyed half of a student apartment complex at NDSU’s F Court building in University village, displacing 32 students.

  • April 31, 2000: A blaze that started in the Tropics nightclub raged through three downtown Fargo buildings, gutting nearly half a block of Broadway. Tropics owner John Michael Maurer was later found guilty of arson.

  • March 19, 1999: Firefighters find the body of 77-year-old George Duis in his burning apartment at the Universal Building, 510 4th Ave. N., Fargo. William Gary Pretzer pleaded guilty to killing Duis and was sentenced to life in prison.

  • Jan. 14, 1995: A Moorhead mother, Terriann Carrillo, and her six children died of smoke inhalation. The fire was ignited by a burning cigarette in their apartment on 19th Street South.

  • Nov. 3, 1993: Fire kills Daniel Cruz Leyva, 34, a resident of a third-floor apartment at 1929 18th Ave. S. in Moorhead.

  • May 19, 1991: Fire at West Fargo’s Sunset Motel kills Deborah Ducheneaux and Jim George, both of Mandan, N.D., and Dale Nordstrom of Bismarck.

  • Feb. 4, 1990: Three-alarm fire guts building at 324 Broadway, which housed Mr. Don’s State College of Beauty, the New Valley Hotel, the Golden Razor barbershop and vintage clothing store The Rage. The businesses, just north of the Fargo Theatre, are considered a complete loss. Arson is suspected.

  • April 21, 1983: Fire seriously damages Happy Dragon Chinese Restaurant, 109 Roberts St., and causes smoke damage to six adjoining businesses. Fire ruled arson.

  • Feb. 4, 1983: Fire destroys Association for Retarded Citizens thrift store at 215 N. University Drive. Loss estimated at $220,000. Unvented clothes dryer determined to be the cause.

  • Oct. 11, 1982: A two-alarm fire guts Silver Spur Saloon-Jupe’s East lounge at 617 NP Ave., Fargo, causing at least $200,000 in damage. Cause unknown.

  • July 11, 1976: Fire ravages the Continental Block at Broadway and Second Avenue North in Fargo, destroying six businesses: Cripple Creek Bar, Tandy Leather Co., Barber Palace barber shop, Fortune Hotel, SKR Realty and Take 5 lounge. Loss estimated at $672,000 and considered “the biggest arson case in the city’s history,” according to a 1978 Forum report.

  • Dec. 8, 1971: One firefighter killed, 40 hurt when a massive blaze destroys the Smoke Shop Cafe, Chatterbox Lounge and Elgin Hotel on NP Avenue in Fargo, a half-block east of Broadway. Cause traced to faulty wiring of light switch in the rear of the Chatterbox Lounge.

  • April 19, 1966: Fire destroys Fargo’s Central High School, just west of the Cass County Courthouse. The loss was estimated at $1 million. Students finished the school year at Fargo North High School and other sites around town. Shortly after the fire, construction began on Fargo South High School.

  • April 14, 1963: A major fire guts the Huntington Block building at the corner of First Avenue and Broadway. Damage estimated at more than $500,000. Six stores, including Straus Co., are destroyed.

  • Nov. 29, 1958: Fire destroyed the R.F. Gunkelman & Sons seed-processing plant and elevator in downtown Fargo. More than 60 firefighters fought the blaze in below-freezing temperatures to keep it from spreading to other buildings near Broadway and Main Avenue.

  • Nov. 19, 1955: Fire damages the Isis Theater building on the 200 block of Fargo’s Broadway.

  • Dec. 13, 1951: Three people die when fire destroys the historic Earle Hotel and adjacent Waldorf Tavern at Main Avenue and Seventh Street in Fargo.

  • Feb. 9, 1930: Fire destroys Minnesota State University Moorhead’s Old Main, the primary building on campus. The estimated loss at the time was $750,000.

  • June 7, 1893: “The Great Fire” begins in downtown Fargo and spreads from wood building to wood building, destroying City Hall, the business district and the homes of most of Fargo’s 6,000 residents. The fire covered 160 acres and left a loss of $4 million to

    $5 million. The cause was never determined. Brick buildings eventually replace many of those destroyed.

  • June 8, 1890: NP Depot destroyed in blaze.

  • Sept. 3, 1889: Joseph Hoefer died in the line of duty. He is thought to be the first Fargo firefighter to lose his life while fighting a fire.

  • Nov. 17, 1885: Continental Hotel at Second Avenue and Broadway destroyed by fire.

  • May 16, 1883: Fargo Opera House fire.

  • May 16, 1880: Fargo Mill at Eighth Street and Main Avenue destroyed.

  • Dec. 15, 1876: Erickson’s Meat Market, located at Front Street and Fifth Street in Fargo, lost to fire that began at midnight. At least 10 buildings were destroyed, with the loss estimated to be $12,000.

  • Sept. 22, 1874: Fargo’s Headquarters Hotel destroyed by fire that started in the kitchen.