$500,000 Damage in Accidental Bismarck Apartment Fire - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

$500,000 Damage in Accidental Bismarck Apartment Fire


A nearly 100 year old Bismarck apartment building catches fire this morning forcing residents and several area businesses to evacuate.

Workers welding pipe accidentally started the fire.

Tenants describe how they managed to get out as smoke quickly filled the building.

Some were able to save their pets while others were left hoping and praying.

Flames and smoke poured out of windows in the Norma Apartment building on third street shortly after ten am.

No one was injured but several tenants were inside at the time.

Stephanie Dimitch was on her couch when she noticed smoke coming out of the walls.

"I ran back and got my cats and I was running to my neighbors door to try and wake him up and get him out and he tried to grab the fire extinguished but like I said there were no flames it was just complete black smoke everywhere," says Stephanie Dimitch.

Seventy-five firefighters had the blaze under control within an hour. Streets were blocked off in the area as hundreds gathered to watch

Katie Nickell hurried back from work to find her cat Kiki had somehow survived.

"If my apartment burned down I didn't care I just wanted my cat. It's all I got here," says Katie Nickell.

Another woman was also counting her blessings.

"I have fourteen small bird and I just got word that they are all ok. I had them covered up and my windows open so they're doing good," says Lori Johnson.

Crews searched all eighteen apartments and determined the fire likely started in the southeast corner on the second floor. .

"These type buildings there are redone over the years we might have more than once ceiling in some cases, the type of construction, difficult area to get into, this is a living type area so we had occupants to search for as well. So a very physical type firefight," says Chief Joel Boesflug.

For KX News, I'm Tom Gerhardt.

Damage is estimated at $500,000.

The apartment was built in 1916 according to businessman Skip Duemland.

By noon all area businesses except JL Beers reopened and employees were allowed back to work.

Fire chief Joel Boesflug says he doesn't think the restaurant/bar was damaged.


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