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Published August 25 2012

Burning down the (buyout) house

MOORHEAD – If you happened to cruise past a burning home in south Moorhead on Saturday morning and wondered why the firefighters surrounding it didn’t seem in a hurry to put it out, rest easy: It was all part of the plan.

Sabin-Elmwood fire officials completed controlled burns of two homes in the 6000 block of Third Street South, wrapping up their destruction of flood buyout properties for the year.

The empty homes had already been staging grounds for smaller controlled burns used for arson training throughout the year. Police and fire personnel periodically visited from around Minnesota to take arson classes based on fires set within the homes by fire officials.

“It was great training,’ said Randy Schmidt, the Sabin-Elmwood fire chief.

When it was time to take the houses down, much of the inside had already been burned out, he said.

Saturday’s burns started about 8:30 a.m. and were done by noon, though the homes will smolder into today.

The homes were the third and fourth buyout properties that have been burned this year. They were located in Moorhead’s Crestwood neighborhood, an area targeted heavily by buyouts in recent years.

Schmidt said the fire department didn’t announce the burnings in advance because it doesn’t like to attract a crowd. Still, the fire attracted attention from passers-by.

“We don’t care to get all the onlookers out there,” he said.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502