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Archie Ingersoll, Published December 18 2013

Fire officials say unattended candle started fire that set off sprinkler system in Fargo High Rise

FARGO – Fire officials say an unattended candle started a blaze Tuesday night in a downtown apartment building, setting off the sprinkler system and causing significant water damage to much of the structure.

Shortly after 9 p.m., fire alarms went off at the Fargo High Rise, a 22-story complex at 101 2nd St. S. Fargo firefighters arrived to find water running down the east side of the building starting at the 15th floor, fire officials said.

Firefighters learned that the sprinklers had extinguished a fire on the 15th floor in apartment 1511. Inside the unit, they found the woman who lived there. She was not injured, fire officials said.

The woman told fire investigators she had left a candle burning in a bedroom. She later discovered that a pillow and bedspread were on fire, and she tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the flames.

The blaze, which caused minor fire and smoke damage, was contained to the woman’s apartment, but it activated the sprinkler system, which caused water damage to the apartment and the first 15 floors, fire officials said.

The fire prompted many residents to evacuate the building. They were all able to return to their units that night, except for the woman in the fire-damaged apartment, said Brian Shawn, a spokesman for the American Red Cross, which sheltered the woman.