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Published September 02 2012

Fire destroys Fargo mobile home; 17-year-old girl treated for smoke inhalation

FARGO – A 17-year-old girl was treated for smoke inhalation after she escaped a fire that destroyed a north Fargo mobile home Saturday night, displacing a family of six.

The girl, who was home alone at the time of the fire in the Riviera Heights mobile home park, woke up to the smell of smoke in her room and escaped out her bedroom window, Assistant Fire Chief Larry Schuh said.

“She felt her bedroom door, and it was hot, so she did the right thing” by not opening the door, Schuh said.

Fire crews responded at about 11:40 p.m. to the home at 3506 Casino St. N. and found it engulfed in flames and strong winds pushing the fire onto the adjacent home, according to Assistant Chief LeRoy Skarloken.

About a dozen firefighters stopped the flames from spreading into the neighboring home to the north and had the fire under control in about 15 minutes, but the home in which the fire started was a complete loss. The other home sustained exterior damage estimated at less than $1,000, Schuh said.

The girl was taken by F-M Ambulance to Sanford Medical Center to be treated for smoke inhalation. She was expected to make a full recovery.

One cat died in the fire, and the whereabouts of two others were unknown, Skarloken said.

The cause of the fire, which started in the kitchen/living room area, is under investigation.

Jonathan Arechigo, a family friend who had been staying in the home up until two or three weeks ago, was at the scene Sunday afternoon and identified the girl as Samantha Garcia and her parents as Stephen and Bobbi Jo Garcia. He said after the girl escaped through the window, she tried to open the front porch door to let the cats out, but flames shot out the doorway.

Arechigo, 16, who also lost belongings in the fire, said the girl told him after the fire that she didn’t want to go to bed.

“Every time she’d close her eyes … she’d see the flames,” he said.

The American Red Cross was providing temporary housing assistance for the parents and four children displaced by the fire. The Salvation Army and Fargo police also assisted at the scene.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528