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Massive fire in Williston apartment building leaves 60 to 80 displaced

WILLISTON, N.D. --An estimated 60 to 80 people were displaced, but no one was injured when an apartment building in Williston caught fire early Thursday morning, Sept. 6.

The fire started in the Valley Rental apartment complex  in western Williston between 2 and 2:30 a.m. Thursday morning, according to Williston Fire Chief Jason Catrambone.

When the first firefighters arrived on scene, flames were already visible through the roof on the southwest corner of the building, he said. The wind was blowing from the south, which caused the fire to spread quickly through the building’s attic space.

“With the attic space (not having sprinklers), there was really nothing to stop it,” Catrambone said.

Two crews went into the building to fight the fire, while others helped evacuate. Residents were also going door-to-door rousing neighbors and helping to evacuate the building, Catrambone said. It took several hours to bring the fire under control, and crews on scene were spraying down hotspots until around 7:30 a.m. Some firefighters remained on scene throughout the morning to watch for flare ups.

The fire destroyed the roof of the building, and in places the third floor collapsed. Catrambone said firefighters were going into apartments that were deemed safe to enter to help retrieve essential belongings, including medication, for those displaced.

There were no reported injuries from residents or from the 35 firefighters on scene. Between 60 and 80 people were displaced by the blaze.

MainStay Suites in Williston offered those displaced rooms for Thursday night, and the Red Cross worked with volunteers to find places to stay and collect donations.

“They put us up in here, which was extremely nice,” Cruz said of the hotel.

Joseph Dora, the general manager of the MainStay Suites, said one of the hotel managers lived in the same complex and watched the fire. She texted him around 5:15 a.m. Thursday and coordinated with the apartment complex to get a list of those who lived in the building.

“She really went above and beyond,” Dora said.

People displaced by the fire were in about 25 rooms at the hotel, he said.

The Red Cross gave financial assistance to 57 people, according to a news release from the organization.