WEST FARGO — Officials have ruled the cause of a Valentine's Day apartment fire in West Fargo accidental, due to a juvenile playing with a lighter.
The fire caused $25,000 in property damage and $5,000 in damage to personal items in the unit, according to West Fargo Fire Chief Dan Fuller.
Fire crews were called to a multi-unit building in the 200 block of 9 1/2 Avenue West where they quickly put out the fire in an upstairs bedroom, but not before the apartment unit sustained significant smoke damage, Fuller said.
No injuries were reported. The American Red Cross helped the residents with short-term housing and necessities.
Officials said Friday, Feb. 21, they would be working with the juvenile and family as part of the Youth Firesetters Intervention Program to address this incident. The program is designed to understand why the fire occurred and teach preventative measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Fires started by children between 2005 and 2009 accounted for 56,300 fires, with 110 civilian deaths, 880 civilian injuries and $286 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Younger children are more likely to set fires inside the home, with many fires involving a child playing with a lighter in their bedroom.
The West Fargo Fire Department offers the Youth Firesetters Intervention Program along with the Fargo Fire Department and West Fargo Police Department for anyone concerned about their child’s curiosity with fire or with a child who is exhibiting behaviors related to thrill-seeking or willful intent to cause destruction.
Children under stress or who have recently suffered mental or emotional problems may also be at risk for experimenting with fire play. For more information, visit the West Fargo Fire Department's website.
In the case of this fire, crews were able to quickly knock down heavy flames with the aid of hydrants that had been cleared of snow and maintained by neighborhood residents. The cleared hydrants allowed crews to contain the fire to one residence.
West Fargo residents can adopt fire hydrants by visiting www.westfargofire.org and clicking the "Adopt a Hydrant" icon. By adopting a hydrant, residents commit to clearing it of snow and ice during the winter and keeping an eye on it in case of any other issues.