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Herald Staff Report, Grand Forks Herald, Published January 19 2012

Fire Department: Propane torch use led to fire at Grand Forks high school

The Grand Forks Fire Department has determined a hot spot caused by a propane torch used to melt ice led to a fire at a building addition Wednesday morning at Grand Forks Red River High School.

A department release said the fire started on the northwest corner of the roof that covers what will be the set shop for the Red River Performing Arts Center, which has been under construction since May 2011.

The release said the fire was accidental, caused when a hot spot was left after a propane torch was used to melt ice so that winter roofing work could be done.

The fire was confined to the roof of the stage shop and the outside wall east of the stage.

Contractors said the fire didn’t appear to significantly damage the building’s structure, but a lot of water needed to be pumped out of its basement.

Damage estimates are being gathered by both contractors and insurance companies.

Red River High School wasn’t affected by the fire, but the school was evacuated as a precaution.

School officials believe completion of the $9.4 million project will be slightly delayed because of the fire.