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Forum staff reports, Published March 01 2013

VIDEO: Moorhead apartment fire blamed on unattended cooking pan

MOORHEAD – A fire in an apartment building at 2408 3rd Ave. N. that forced the evacuation of residents started in the kitchen of a first-floor apartment.

The cause of the fire was an unattended cooking pan that was left on as the tenant fell asleep, stated a release from the Moorhead Fire Department.

Residents of the 18-unit building were trapped in their homes or jumped from windows when the fire broke out just before 11 p.m. Thursday.

The tenant was awakened by smoke detectors and discovered his kitchen was fully involved in flames.

There was heavy fire and smoke damage in the kitchen, with heavy to moderate smoke damage to the rest of the apartment, the release stated. Damage was contained to the immediate apartment and a small area in the hallway. The preliminary damage estimate is $8,000.

Moorhead Assistant Fire Chief Greg Doeden said late Thursday that one person was believed to have injured their ankle and another was being treated for smoke inhalation.

The tenant whose apartment caught fire ran to neighbors to warn them of the fire.

Brad and Anna Poitra, who lived in an apartment next to the one where the fire broke out, said they were in bed when they heard the neighbor alert them of the fire.

“He got us out then ran back in to third floor knocking on doors,” Brad Poitra said. The couple said they saw flames coming from the neighbor’s door.

The couple was able to get Anna’s 75-year-old mother outside and to safety as well their pet guinea pig, George.

Brad Poitra said he believed his neighbor lived with three dogs, all of which were outside safely.

Although the temperature hovered around 20 degrees Thursday night, Doeden said the cold didn’t cause any equipment problems.

He said surrounding buildings did not need to be evacuated. Most residents of the building took refuge at the nearby bowling alley or in their cars.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army were on the scene to help tenants who self-evacuated. The Red Cross helped the tenant who had the fire with temporary housing for the evening. All of the other tenants of the apartment building were able to return to their apartments, the Fire Department reported.