Wendy Reuer, Published June 21 2013
VIDEOS: Thursday night storms swamp Red River Valley
Shortly before 10 p.m., rain began to pummel the metro area. Lightning frequently lit up the area, causing a number of power outages.
Assistant Fargo Fire Chief Gary Lorenz said heavy rain caused a road washout in the city of Fargo at Seventh Avenue and 23rd Street North.
Fargo fire crews were also responding to multiple downed power lines across the city, Lorenz said.
At one point, Xcel Energy reported about 445 households were without power in the Fargo area.
Interstate 94 was closed in both directions at the Casselton, N.D., exit due to overland flooding. According to the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, about 3.8 inches of rain had been reported in Casselton.
In Valley City, N.D., a deluge of rain – 4.3 to 6.2 inches – blasted Valley City and surrounding Barnes County on Thursday evening. Officials advised no travel throughout the city after water submerged numerous roads, making some impassable, Valley City Police Chief Fred Thompson said.
“We’re getting wet, very wet,” Thompson said. “… We’re working on blockading streets where appropriate, and we put extra personnel in, and we’re just dealing with it.”
Three extra police officers had been called and Barnes County Sheriff Randy McClaflin said deputies were on shift to assist in the city and county, where a number of roads had also been flooded, he said.
No injuries were reported by either department.
The police department had received multiple reports of basement flooding as well as one report of a caved-in basement wall, Thompson said.
“We would appreciate it if (people) would stay off the roads, if at all possible. Stay in their homes,” Thompson said.
As of 9 p.m. Thursday, Barnes County, including Valley City, was in a flash flood warning.
“We always say if you can see water ahead of you, you’re to turn around and go back in the direction you came in that’s dry,” said Bill Barrett, meteorologist technician with the weather service. “Don’t drive into it.”
Barrett said a measurement of 4.3 inches of rain had been taken at Valley City State University, and another measurement 2 miles of west of the city had reached 6.2 inches.
Just before 11 p.m., Fargo fire crews were on the scene of a house fire at 4114 Timberline Drive, said Assistant Fire Chief Lorenz. It was not clear if lightning sparked the fire.
Upon arrival, crews reported seeing flames coming from the upper floor of the home. Red River Regional Dispatch staff said no one was in the structure.
Fargo police Officer Fred Lassonde said the fire was located in the roof.
Ashley Engkjer says her father, Wayne, owns the home. Ashley Engkjer said neighbors heard a noise during the storm, looked out and saw the fire. Wayne Engkjer was on his way back from Pelican Lake in Minnesota as of Thursday night. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
A written statement released by the Fire Department early Thursday said the initial attack on the fire was thwarted by excessive heat conditions and a concern abou the roof's stability.
Crews were ordered outside and did not return until a large portion of the fire was knocked down from outside.
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Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530
Forum News Service writer Kari Lucin and Forum Deputy Editor Kirsten Stromsodt contributed to this report