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Published December 05, 2013, 08:04 PM

Minot apartment complex fire damage estimated at $12 million

A fire that broke out Thursday in a Minot apartment complex that was under construction has caused an estimated $12 million in damage to two buildings. No one was injured in the fire at the Chateau Apartments, where buildings were being constructed to connect to an already occupied building.

By: Nichole Seitz, Forum News Service

MINOT, N.D. -- A fire that broke out Thursday in a Minot apartment complex that was under construction has caused an estimated $12 million in damage to two buildings.

No one was injured in the fire at the Chateau Apartments, where buildings were being constructed to connect to an already occupied building.

Crews received the call about 6:30 a.m. and arrived on scene four minutes later.

“By the time we were halfway there, we saw smoke and flames everywhere,” said Capt. Robert Johnson of the Minot Fire Department. Where and how the fire started was still unknown, said Johnson, who provided the $12 million damage estimate.

Crews battled the flames in temperatures well below zero, which proved to be an added hazard.

“The minute the water hits the ground, it’s going to freeze,” said Johnson, who added that one firefighter did slip and fall.

Police worked to evacuate the existing building, said Minot police Lt. Jason Sundbakken. Surrounding streets were blocked off and buses had to be rerouted so firefighters could work to extinguish the fire.

Members of the local American Red Cross were on scene to provide food, water and other items to emergency personnel and residents who had been evacuated.

“We had hot chocolate, coffee and water available. There were only five to 10 evacuees that came to us. The majority were the first responders,” said Brian Shawn, regional communications officer for the Red Cross of North Dakota and South Dakota.

Residents were allowed to return to their apartments later Thursday.

The buildings near the Arrowhead Shopping Center are owned by Minot-based Investors Real Estate Trust.

The existing building has 32 units and the new construction was going to be a 15-unit and a 57-unit building. The 15-unit building was anticipated to open in February, and the 57-unit building was anticipated to open next summer.

In 2012, part of the complex also caught fire after a remodeling project began. The property was being remodeled after receiving flood damage.

When reached by phone, a representative for the company declined to comment, but a statement posted on the company’s website said “IRET is grateful for the quick response and action of the Minot Fire Department to extinguish the fire, and to protect the surrounding neighborhood, in bitterly cold conditions. The Minot Fire Department, along with local law enforcement, will work to identify the cause of the fire as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.”

Businesses were able to open as usual, said Kay Brunner, commercial property manager at the nearby Arrowhead Shopping Center, although traffic was re-routed because of road closures.