Firefighters Respond from Up to 3 Hours Away to Help Battle Extreme Summer Fire

Local News

In Continuing Coverage: we sit down with those fought the Mandan apartment blaze.

Mandan Fire Fighters tell us they’ve never seen a fire quite like the one that lit up a Mandan apartment building just over three weeks ago. Not to mention it was one of the hottest days of the year.

KX News sat down with several firefighters today, to see how they’re doing.

The Sun was blazing on Sunday, July 14th, as every single Mandan firefighter was paged out to Northwest Mandan.

One firefighter we spoke to was fishing up on Lake Sakakawea, another was in Jamestown, and another was all the way in Medora. But no one thought twice about responding to the call of duty.

Mandan Fire Department Wayne Friesz shares, “We could tell that it was bad when they were sending firefighters to the hospital and calling in other departments. So, when we got to town, the first thing they put us up in the ladder truck, so an hour and a half/two hours into this fire, they were still fighting it pretty good.”

The biggest obstacle that day: the heat.

Friesz adds, “You could only work for a little while and then you were so heat exhausted that you had to quit.”

He says it was likely about 140 degrees up in the ladder, and several firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion.

Friesz says, “A few ended up in the hospital.”

Mandan Fire Department Captain Steve Kilen adds, “With the gear and the heat, and everything else, you’re going to dehydrate pretty quick.”

Battalion Chief John Hildremyr explains, “We had 29 people from our department respond: 11 of them were treated with IVs, four of them were transported to the hospital and one spent the night for observation.”

Hildremyr was on the first crew that arrived on the scene.

He shares, “When it’s extremely hot or extremely cold, fire-fighting is hard. We can only take so much of that gear off and still be able to fight fires safely. So imagine putting on all your winter clothing when it’s 95 degrees, and going out and working hard in your yard. It doesn’t take long for you to tire out.”

Captain Friesz tells us, because of the heat, the fire spread through the attic really quickly. He says it was almost impossible to stop.

He adds, “Of the 21 years I’ve been on the fire department, it’s the worst structure fire I’ve ever been at.”

Kilen shares, “Since I’ve been on this department for 25 years, it’s been the biggest fire we’ve seen here.”

A couple of weeks ago, Fire Chief Steve Nardello ruled the cause of the fire, accidental. Today, he said they know it’s accidental, but because of the damage, they weren’t able to find out too much more about its origin.

We’re happy to report: all firefighters are back and in good health.

KX News extended our thanks for the efforts of our first responders today.

We brought bagged lunches out to the fire department and enjoyed getting to know these service-men over lunch.

As we discussed the heat and the extreme fire last month, it was certainly nice to sit comfortably in the AC. The firefighters even got a personalized forecast from Meteorologist Dave Holder.

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