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Kyle Potter, Published August 04 2013

Two fires damage homes in Moorhead

MOORHEAD - Moorhead firefighters tackled two separate fires in the southeastern part of town Sunday, stopping the flames before they could spread throughout each house. The garages at both homes completely destroyed.

The first fire broke out around 1:30 p.m. at 1703 33rd St. S., where no one was home at the time. Firefighters quickly knocked down the blaze but not before it gutted the garage and caused moderate smoke damage throughout the house, causing between $50,000 and $70,000 in damages.

Just seven hours later, Moorhead resident Adam Olson was running past a fire spreading in the garage next door, hollering at his neighbor – unaware that his home was on fire – to get out.

There’s no estimate of the damages from the second fire, at 3806 Village Green Dr., but Assistant Chief Greg Doeden said it was more severe than the first. Flames had already spread to the roof and several walls inside the home by the time it was extinguished.

Doeden said it was rare to tackle two big fires in one day.

“Luckily, it’s not 90 degrees,” he said.

There’s no official word yet on what may have caused either fire. Doeden said investigators are looking into it.

1703 33rd St. S.

Brad Arends said he, his wife and four children had left town around noon Sunday, with plans to head to Minneapolis later in the afternoon. Just more than an hour later, he got a call that his house was ablaze.

Arends was at a loss for words, shaking his head as he surveyed the charred remains of his garage. He said it looked like some flames had spread to the bathroom on his second floor.

Neighbor Bill Wilke said he was pulling into his own driveway down the street when he saw 6-foot-tall flames spreading near the front of Arends’s garage. He grabbed a fire extinguisher, told his wife to call 911 and took off down the road.

“By the time I got half-way down the cul-de-sac, the garage was fully engulfed,” he said, adding that he saw several explosions from inside.

Arends kept gasoline in the garage, he said, adding there were probably some old fireworks from the Fourth of July inside.

1 ½ miles away, a second blaze

Adam Olson was sitting in his living room Sunday night when he noticed thick clouds of black smoke rolling by.

“You couldn’t see out the window,” he said.

Olson said the fire was contained to the garage when he ran inside his neighbor’s house to make sure the man had gotten out. There wasn’t much smoke inside the house then, Olson said. The owner, whom Olson identified as Chip Young, had no idea his house was on fire.

Young was taken to the hospital, but Olson said Young did not seem to be injured.

Moorhead firefighters responded to reports of a fire at Young’s house at 8:30 p.m., and put out the flames within 10 minutes, Doeden said.

Olson said Young believes a battery charger in the garage, which was charging his golf cart at the time, may have started the fire.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kyle Potter at (701) 241-5502