No injuries were reported after a fire damaged 12 Grand Forks apartments and displaced several residents on Tuesday, April 6, according to the Grand Forks Fire Department. Displaced residents, including a cat that was rescued from the fire, are being assisted by the American Red Cross.
Residents who escaped the blaze at the two-story Cherry Arms Condos complex at 3506 Cherry St. credited the lack of injuries in part to the heroic actions of an unnamed Grand Forks mailman to help tenants out of their apartments before fire crews arrived.
Grand Forks Fire Department Battalion Chief Doug Stern said that the department is working to learn the identity of the mailman, and would like to recognize his actions on Tuesday.
"(He) probably did save lives," Stern said.
The fire was caused by "careless use of smoking materials," fire marshals determined. Stern said the fire started in a patio room of one of the upstairs condos, and very quickly went up the walls and into the attic.
The building was severely damaged in the fire, and property loss is estimated to be about $200,000, according to a release from the Grand Forks Fire Department.
The release states that fire crews were dispatched to the apartments at about 12:20 p.m. Tuesday, where they found heavy smoke and fire coming from the roof of the structure. Crews extinguished the fire in about 30 minutes.
According to Stern, the most important thing residents can do to protect themselves from these kinds of fires is remember to properly dispose of their smoking materials in the proper receptacles.
The Grand Forks Fire Department responded with five engines, one truck, one command vehicle and 21 personnel. Fire crews were assisted by Grand Forks police, Altru Ambulance, American Red Cross, Xcel Energy and the City of Grand Forks Inspections Office.