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Nichole Seitz, Forum News Service, Published December 05 2013

Fire causes $12 million in damage to Minot apartments under construction

MINOT, N.D. – A fire that broke out in an apartment complex that was under construction here has caused an estimated $12 million in damage.

No one was injured in the fire at the Chateau Apartments, where a building was being built to connect to an already occupied building.

Crews received the call about 6:30 a.m. and were able to arrive on scene four minutes later.

“By the time we were half way there, we saw smoke and flames everywhere,” said Capt. Robert Johnson of the Minot Fire Department. Where and how the fire started is still unknown, said Johnson, who provided the $12 million damage estimate.

Police worked to evacuate the existing building, according to Lt. Jason Sundbakken of the Minot Police Department. Surrounding streets were blocked off and buses were rerouted so firefighters could work to extinguish the fire.

Crews battled the flames in temperatures well below zero, which proved to be an added hazard.

“The minute the water hits the ground, it’s going to freeze,” said Johnson, who added that one firefighter did slip and fall.

Members of the local American Red Cross were on scene to provide food, water and other items to emergency personnel and residents who were evacuated.

“We had hot chocolate, coffee and water available. There were only five to 10 evacuees that came to us. The majority were the first responders,” said Brian Shawn, regional communications officer for the Red Cross of North Dakota and South Dakota.

The buildings are owned by IRET Properties. A representative for the company declined to comment.

The existing building has 32 units and the new construction was going to be a 15-unit and a 57-unit building

In 2012, part of the complex also caught fire after a remodeling project began. The property was being remodeled after receiving flood damage.

The fire was isolated to new construction within the Chateau Apartments complex near the Arrowhead Shopping Center.

Mall businesses were able to open as usual, said Kay Brunner, commercial property manager at shopping center, although traffic was re-routed because of road closures.