Firefighter breaks arm after falling down stairsPublished 11:06am Monday, July 8, 2013
Five businesses were damaged, one firefighter was injured and five families were displaced as the result of a fire that burned all night in downtown Fergus Falls.
The fire at the 200 block of Lincoln Avenue started shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday and burned until the sun came up Monday morning.
Flames burned through the roof of the building that is home to Lakes Country Graphics, Curl Up and Dye and four tenants. While the building was not destroyed, a combination of fire, smoke and water caused significant damage to five businesses, said fire chief Mark Hovland.
While all of the tenants escaped safely, a firefighter suffered a broken arm after falling down a flight of stairs. He underwent surgery this morning. One other firefighter was treated and released for heat exhaustion.
While an official cause has yet to be determined, it appears the fire was caused by electrical problems, Hovland said.
The initial call came in to the fire department at 10:23 p.m. Sunday when a caller reported light smoke and an electrical problem. Crews entered the building and found the fire was coming from the attic, Hovland said.
“At first, we thought there was still somebody in the building, so we started in rescue mode,” he said. “When we knew everyone was out we went to offense mode.”
Crews entered the building and attempted to fight the fire from the inside. When the blaze grew too large, firefighters backed off and went into defensive mode, fighting the fire from the large ladder hose behind the building. Crews switched from offense to defense a few times before everything was under control, Hovland said.
“It was a hard fire to get to because it was in the ceiling in a tight attic space that was only three or four feet high,” he said. “Most ceilings in apartments are 10 feet. It was a lot of heavy, physical work inside.”
Firefighters will likely remain on scene throughout the day, and the next step for the fire department is to get things cleaned up and determine when roads and sidewalks can be opened to the public, said Hovland.
A total of 102 firefighters were involved, and agencies that assisted the Fergus Falls Fire Department included the Fergus Falls Police Department, Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Department, the Minnesota State Highway Patrol, Ringdahl Ambulance, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Fergus Falls Public Works, the State Fire Marshal and nine fire departments from surrounding areas.