Investigators spent Wednesday searching for answers after a dramatic fire at a warehouse on the north end of Grand Forks Tuesday night. And in the wake of another fire that also occurred Tuesday at a local elementary school, a teenager now faces charges.
Battalion Chief Bruce Weymier said the warehouse, 1720 Mill Road, is a total loss. A passerby called 911 to report visible flames just before 9 p.m., a press release said. When firefighters arrived, heavy flames were coming through the roof of the roughly 10,000-square-foot warehouse building.
The building is owned by 3G Ventures and Weymier said it was used as a "big server farm," presumably relating to internet data. 3G Ventures is not registered by the Secretary of State's Office and contact information could not be obtained by the Herald.
Crews remained on scene overnight to monitor hot spots, Weymier said. The structure was damaged so significantly that Weymier said it was not completely safe for investigators to enter by Wednesday morning.
"Because of the damage, we might never be able to determine what happened," he said. "That's the bad part, because of the extensive amount of damage we might find an area where it started, but a lot of times with a fire that hot, it burns most of the evidence away."
Weymier said firefighters had difficulty getting to the warehouse because of gates and fencing, but they were able to spray water onto the flames from a distance while they cut through the gates. The blaze took about an hour and a half to extinguish and all fire vehicles were on scene.
Earlier Tuesday, firefighters were called to Ben Franklin Elementary School, 1016 S. 20th St., as fire alarms sounded just before 6:30 p.m., according to a press release.
A custodian discovered a small fire in the library and extinguished it before firefighters arrived, the release said. There were students and staff in the building during the fire, but the release said there was no one in the library.
An investigation with the fire department, police department and North Dakota State Fire Marshal's Office, revealed a 13-year-old boy intentionally set the fire. He was arrested around 9 p.m. and charged with arson and endangerment by fire, according to the release. The boy's identity is not public information because he is a minor.
The school closed was Wednesday for cleanup and repairs. The extent of damage is being evaluated.