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Cigarettes to Blame for an Overnight Fire in Fargo - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Cigarettes to Blame for an Overnight Fire in Fargo

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Fire fighters, property managers, and neighbors are stressing that smokers put out their cigarettes the right way, so a fire like the one this morning at a south Fargo apartment building at 4452 47th Street South doesn't happen again.

It started on the apartment balcony and ended with $5,000 in damages.  

"I had a strong smell of smoke in the apartment, looked around, looked at our patio window and saw sparks coming down from the second floor patio," says Janna Appling after waking up just after 1:00 in the morning to use the restroom.

Appling called 911, woke up her family then went upstairs to those who living right above her and realized their second-floor apartment was full of smoke from a cigarette.

"By the time we had gotten outside they had put out the external fire outside. But then there was still the fire in between the levels of the apartment," Appling says.

The Fargo Fire Department says changes in the International Fire Code mean apartment buildings built in the last ten year or so need to be built of fireproof siding and have sprinklers outside--in addition to those inside and the alarms.

"They're centered around evacuation, confining the fire and extinguishing it," says Fargo Fire Marshal Ryan Erickson.

There have been 17 balcony or deck fires so far this year. Goldmark Property Management Inc. doesn't manage the building, but says doing away with cigarettes in apartments makes the property less marketable.

"In the Fargo-Moorhead area there are no apartment buildings that Goldmark manages that are smoke-free," says Goldmark Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kurt Bollman.

The Appling family can still live in their south Fargo apartment, but the neighbors upstairs might not be so lucky.

"It sounds like they ripped about 4 feet of their floor up. It was smoldering underneath so they got that all put out after they tore it up," says Appling.

Appling thinks--and fire officials agree-- it is important to be responsible, fully extinguishing cigarettes and disposing of them in a non flammable container, like a metal bucket full of water or sand. 

Goldmark says it's important to have renters insurance--many times in these situations, the renter can be held responsible for damages.

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Firefighters made quick work of a small deck fire in South Fargo early Monday morning. They say cigarettes are to blame.  Firefighters were called to the 4400 block of 47th street south just before 1 am.

The people who lived in a second story apartment had put the flames on the balcony out, but firefighters had to cut away a patio door frame to finish the job.

The cause was improperly discarded smoking materials -- damage to the building is estimated at $5,000.  

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