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Charly Haley, Published September 07 2012

VIDEO: Firefighters put out hot spots at scene of north Fargo fire

FARGO – Firefighters spent most of the day at the scene of a fire that heavily damaged a partially constructed apartment building Friday morning in north Fargo.

When firefighters arrived at 1900 Dakota Drive N. about 4:20 a.m., “there was a large amount of fire. The center of the building was already engulfed in flames,” said Assistant Fire Chief Gary Lorenz.

Flames were shooting about 40 feet above the building in what one firefighter described as resembling “fire tornadoes.”

Firefighters were putting out hot spots throughout the day Friday. They had to use heavy equipment to remove the burned debris in order to investigate the cause of the fire.

“Basically whatever was there is a complete loss,” Lorenz said.

During the initial response, firefighters worked to protect the two adjacent buildings, evacuating the building to the east. Neither building was damaged.

The structure had about two stories of a frame constructed on what was intended to be a four-story building, Lorenz said. It had no roof and some partially-constructed interior walls.

The evacuated residents returned to their homes at about 4:45 a.m., Assistant Fire Chief Steve Balstad said.

The building is owned by APM. When contacted Friday, APM representatives declined to comment.

Some construction equipment was also damaged in the fire, including three lifts, two trailers and lumber, said Danny Kiehl, a construction foreman with Acme Investments who was working on the apartment building.

“Insurance will take care of it,” Kiehl said.

Despite the damage, “there’ll still be an apartment here,” Kiehl said. He said workers will begin tearing down the damaged structure soon.

No one was injured in the fire.

Lorenz said the fire appeared to start in the middle of the building. A Fargo Fire Department news release stated that an estimated 150,000 gallons of water was used to extinguish the fire, and 25 firefighters were on scene.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by fire department investigators.

There was also a break-in at the construction site overnight Tuesday, when some tools were stolen.

Until Fargo fire officials determine whether the fire was arson, police can’t investigate to see if the two incidents are tied together, said police Lt. Joel Vettel.

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