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Dave Olson, Published March 29 2012

Fargo twinhome residents escape from early morning blaze

FARGO – Nick Jaeger awoke early Thursday morning to extreme heat and smoke and immediately went to roommate Steve Lundquist’s bedroom and woke him up.

As the two tried to get out of the smoke-filled residence at 141 Prairiewood Drive S. in Fargo, they became separated in the chaotic darkness.

“It was so smoky in there you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face,” said Jaeger, 23, who ended up returning to his room and jumping out of a window.

Jaeger sprained an ankle landing on the driveway below, but when he didn’t see Lundquist, he quickly went to a side door, where he met Lundquist coming out of the building.

Together, the two men tried to put out the blaze with fire extinguishers and a garden hose, but the fire grew too large and spread too quickly.

Jaeger suffered smoke inhalation and some burns during the ordeal.

One of the few possessions he salvaged from the fire was a case containing a bow and arrows.

As he took stock of what remained of his belongings, Jaeger said it wasn’t clear what his next step would be.

“The Salvation Army gave us a week’s stay at a hotel. I guess I’ll have to figure it out from there,” he said.

Jaeger said it’s his understanding the fire started in the kitchen of the residence he and Lundquist shared.

Assistant Fire Chief Gary Lorenz said the investigation into the fire is continuing, but he said it is believed the fire was accidental in nature.

He said because of the extent of damage in the home, it may not be possible to pin down a precise cause.

Lorenz said his advice to anyone caught in a fire is to get out of the building and leave the firefighting to the Fire Department.

“If you’ve got heavy fire and smoke showing, the chances of you having any impact on that are slim,” he said.

On the other hand, Lorenz said, every situation is different. It can be an option if a fire appears small enough to be dealt with using a fire extinguisher.

The fire was reported about 4:14 a.m.

When firefighters arrived, flames and smoke were coming out of the side of the twinhome Jaeger and Lundquist shared.

Flames had also spread to the attic of the adjoining residence.

Fire crews quickly got the fire under control.

Five people were in the two units of the twinhome and everyone, including a cat, made it out safely, Lorenz said.

Jaeger said stories one hears about smoke being dangerous are true.

“It takes your breath away really quick,” he said. “I inhaled twice, and I was ready to pass out.

“That’s when I went to my window to get air. I put my head out, and smoke was barreling right out. So I just kept going.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555.