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Grand Forks firefighters work from an aerial platform to extinguish flames in the top floor of an apartment building at 2627 S. 17th St. in Grand Forks Friday. photo by Eric Hylden

Fire displaces 40 at Grand Forks apartment

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About 40 Grand Forks residents were displaced following a fire at an apartment Friday morning, the Red Cross said, which is working with the Salvation Army to provide lodging, food and clothing.

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It will be awhile before much of the building is livable, said Mike Sandry, a battalion chief with the Fire Department.

"It's extensive damage," he said. "I think it's a little early to tell. With the amount of water pumped in there, they'll have some inspectors in there to see what can be repaired."

The blaze swallowed up half of the top floor of the 12-unit apartment at 2627 S. 17th St., and there was extensive smoke and water damage throughout, according Sandry. Firefighters took about two hours to get the fire under control, he said.

The fire started in Unit 11 on the southwest corner of the third story.

Firefighters responded at 9:16 a.m. and spent about 20 minutes evacuating tenants, some stuck on a balcony, before turning on their hoses to douse the flames. At one point, firefighters said, Unit 11's balcony caught fire and a propane tank on it ignited.

Five tenants, who were unhurt, and a few pets were evacuated.

Smoke billowed from the building as firefighters worked. They eventually had to bring in a second truck, extend the ladder higher and shoot water down from another angle.

One tenant, who came home from work, watched from below. The man, who wouldn't give his name, said firefighters couldn't get his dog for him and he worried about its fate.

His apartment, he said, is on the second floor, directly below Unit 11.

By 11:30 a.m., the fire was under control.

Three of the firefighters had light injuries, such as pulled muscles, firefighters said. Also assisting in fighting the fire were the city's Street Department, Altru Ambulance and Xcel Energy, which has a nearby substation.

The Red Cross said it's working with the Salvation Army to provide lodging, food and clothing to the displaced tenants.

The Fire Department is still investigating the cause of the fire.

Reach Bieri at (701) 780-1118; (800) 477-6572, ext. 118; or send email to cbieri@gfherald.com. Tu-Uyen Tran contributed to this story.

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