Fire Destroys Apartment Complex - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Fire Destroys Apartment Complex

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A building that was damaged in the 2011 flood and burned down early in 2012, has been consumed by fire again.

A large part of the Chateau Apartment Complex near Minot's Arrowhead Shopping Center burned to the ground early this morning.

Jim Olson is live at the scene of the fire that hit within months of the opening of the new apartments.

Firefighters will be spending the night here - keeping watch over this fire scene that stretches for most of a block along second avenue, right across from Arrowhead Shopping Center. They're on the lookout for hot spots that might require more water. It's a cold job that was made necessary by one of the biggest fires in the city's history.

A construction crew discovered the fire around 6:30 Thursday morning. And by the time fire crews arrived, it had spread to a large chunk of the west side of the apartment complex. And from that point on, it was a matter of trying to keep the fire from spreading outside the under construction portion of the Chateau Apartments. An unmanned hose was set up to keep the flames from leaping to another part of the Chateau complex - a 32-unit building on the west side. Meanwhile, the fire was being fanned by strong northwest winds - winds that both fueled the flames and pushed the fire eastward in the complex. Before long, the fire had leveled the 57-unit building at the heart of the complex and was spreading its destruction to the 15-unit building on the east side of the apartment group.

Flaming chunks of the building materials were sent into the air - landing as far away as two miles in yards and on streets.

There were some reports of secondary fires near the fire site, but they turned out to be nothing major.

Battalion Chief CJ Craven said firefighters quickly decided they had to protect other buildings.

(C.J. Craven, Minot Fire Department) "We set up defensively to try to protect the buildings around the structure."

 

He says a fire in a building that's under construction can be particularly hard to deal with.

(C.J. Craven, Minot Fire Department) "The challenges of a building under construction are, the fire protection features aren't in place. There's no sheetrock, in some places the windows aren't in. This building was in all levels of construction starting with more complete on the east end to less complete on the west end." "Any idea how many guys you have involved?" "We called the entire fire department in. I'm guessing we had somewhere around 35 people."

There are no reports of injuries in connection with the fire.

But it did cause millions of dollars in damage and some residents of apartments just to the west of the fire evacuated for a while, until it was clear the flames would not threaten their buildings.

The fire made the morning commute quite difficult for many people this morning because some major streets had to be closed.

The good news is that there were no residents of the apartment complex, so no one is left immediately homeless by the fire.

But the effort to replace the apartments that were first burned down early in 2012 was set back in a major way.

Craven says he's never seen a building succumb to flames twice.

(C.J. Craven, Minot Fire Department) "I don't believe it's happened before in the 30 years I've been with the fire department."

(Jim Olson, KX News) "In the end all the firefighters could do was keep putting water on the fire to try to keep it from spreading anywhere else. But there wasn't anything to do to save this huge apartment complex that went up in flames for a second time. Near Arrowhead Shopping Center, Jim Olson, KX News."

IRET officials say the 15-unit building was set to open in February and the 57-unit building was scheduled to open in the summer.

They do point out that the 32-unit building on the west end of the complex was unaffected by the fire and residents are back in their apartments.

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