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Published April 04 2013

VIDEO: Fire destroys unattached garage on historic Eighth Street

FARGO – Scott and Shannon Dahms don’t know who alerted them to the fire in the 114-year-old garage behind their house at about 1 a.m. Thursday, but they’re glad he did.

“Whoever came and knocked on our door is just an angel,” Shannon Dahms said.

Firefighters kept the flames from spreading to the house built in 1899, and fire investigators are now trying to determine what caused the blaze that gutted the two-story garage – originally a carriage house – on Fargo’s historic Eighth Street South.

Scott Dahms said he awoke to the sound of his dog barking at someone pounding on the front door of the house. The couple and their two children went out the front door and spoke briefly to the stranger but didn’t get his name amid all the commotion.

Crews responded at 1:04 a.m. to the fire at 423 8th St. S. and found both floors of the garage engulfed in flame, Assistant Chief Le Roy Skarloken said.

Scott Dahms was moving vehicles that were parked in front of the garage, and firefighters also helped move an enclosed trailer away from the garage, Skarloken said. No vehicles were inside the garage at the time of the fire.

Concerns about the garage collapsing hampered firefighting efforts, Skarloken said. Crews brought the fire under control in about an hour and had it extinguished by about 3 a.m.

No one was injured and the house wasn’t damaged, but the garage was a total loss, he said.

Dahms, who has been renovating the home and garage since his family moved in five years ago, estimated the value of the garage at $80,000 to $90,000 and its contents at $30,000 to $40,000.

Skarloken said building materials being stored inside helped fuel the fire.

“That whole second floor, I’d been collecting redwood for years,” Dahms said.

Skarloken said it will take a couple of days for investigators to determine the cause of the fire. Dahms said he has no idea what could have caused it.

The garage was once used to house horse-drawn carriages, with hay stored on the second level, Skarloken said.

Dahms said he will likely rebuild on the same spot.

“I want to be sensitive to the neighborhood because it’s a historic structure, so I’ll do what I can,” he said. “But it’s too bad.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528