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Several displaced in townhome fire, but no injuries

West Fargo firefighters work the scene of a fire at 523 4th Ave N.W. in West Fargo on April 17, 2013. David Samson / Forum News Service 2 / 2

Several residents were displaced from their homes Wednesday night after a five-unit townhome here went up in smoke.

A fire was reported about 3:15 p.m. Wednesday when Tim Flynn, a resident of one of the units, noticed smoke coming from a neighboring unit and called 911.

The adjoining, townhome-style residences are located at 515, 517, 519, 521 and 523 4th Ave. N.W. Crews arrived and found heavy white smoke billowing from one of the units’ chimney and into the street. Smoke continued to pour into the streets like fog until around 6 p.m.

“We had a pretty heavy fire in two of the units,” said West Fargo Fire Chief Roy Schatschneider.

Units 519, 521 and 523 received moderate to heavy fire damage, he said, while the other two, including Flynn’s, received only moderate smoke damage.

“Two of them are going to have to be completely gutted out and redone,” Schatschneider said, referring to 521 and 523. “The third one (519), I don’t know. We’ll leave that up to the insurance company.”

No one was injured in the fire and several pets were saved from the building, Schatschneider said. The cause and origin of the fire are still being investigated.

Flynn, 29, said after he called 911, he and his brother knocked on the doors of 515 and 519, where they knew their neighbors were home. They didn’t believe anyone was inside 521 or 523 at the time of the fire because their vehicles were gone and they usually don’t come home until around 6 p.m., Flynn said.

“His house (523) is pretty much gone,” Flynn said. “That’s where I think it started.”

Schatschneider said all the residents of the building were accounted for.

Fire crews spent at least two hours gaining access to and fighting the fire, as flames had entered into the crawlspaces beneath the main level and firefighters were concerned about the structural integrity of the floor, Schatschneider said.

The estimated cost of the damage is not yet known, Schatschneider said.

Flynn said he wasn’t worried about finding a place to stay for one night. He expected to be back in his home today.

“We’re going to get a hotel. We’ve got plenty of people to go to,” he said.

Four of the families displaced by the fire have received shelter, clothing and food for the next couple of days, according to Brian Shawn, regional communications officer for the Minn-Kota Region Red Cross.

Erik Burgess
Erik Burgess covers city and county government for The Forum. He started as the paper's night reporter in 2012, after graduating from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. He was born and raised in Grand Forks, N.D., and also spent time interning at the Grand Forks Herald.  Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to
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