Local American Red Cross volunteers are working to help the victims of a Labor Day fire in Grand Forks.
According to a release from the American Red Cross, volunteers are working to connect 25 residents in six damaged apartments with comfort and essential items, such as food, clothing, shelter and medications.
The American Red Cross could not be reached Tuesday, Sept. 8, for further comment, but Grand Forks Fire Department Battalion Chief Chuck Marcott said that, as of Tuesday morning, the fire department had turned the building back over the the property manager. The manager will decide when the building is safe enough for residents to be allowed back in their homes.
The building, located at 826 Fourth Ave. S., is made up of six three-level townhomes. The townhome where the fire started suffered extensive damage, while the five surrounding units suffered minimal damage.
According to the Grand Forks Fire Department, firefighters responded to the fire after receiving a call at about 3:20 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7.
Marcott said crews battled the fire for about 20 minutes to a half hour. While several residents were in the building at the time of the fire, all were evacuated and accounted for, and no one was injured, Marcott said.
Matt Hageman, the fire marshal investigating the cause of the fire, said the blaze is believed to have started in the basement of one of the units. Flames escaped through an open window and traveled up the side of the building.
Hageman expects the investigation will wrap up sometime next week. He still has witness statement tapes to review and spent Tuesday morning at the site investigating debris.
"We're looking for what was hot," he said. "What would start something on fire, what was the nearest fuel source, was there paper involved, what could burn once something got hot."
The townhouse where the fire began was heavily damaged, Marcott said. The other five units in the building were damaged less severely, and primarily received water damage. Hageman said it's common for buildings to receive water damage during fires, either because of pipe damage caused by the blaze, or because of water crews use to put out the flames.
Marcott and Hageman agreed that, as far as multi-unit residential fires go, there is very little that's extraordinary about this incident.
"It was pretty straightforward," Marcott said.
Marcott said that smoke detectors in the building were operational when the fire started, and said it's a good reminder for other Grand Forks residents to make sure their smoke detectors are working.
"That's always something to be checking up on," he said. "It's coming up to that time of year, with the time changes we always promote people to check clocks, change batteries and check their fire extinguishers."