Fire Causes Extensive Damage in Downtown Wahpeton Building

Apartment units and businesses occupy the building

WAHPETON, N.D. — A fire in Wahpeton’s former Citizen’s Bank Building causes extensive damage.

It started around 1:30 p.m. in a second story apartment unit on the 500 Block of Dakota Avenue.

The building also includes several businesses and the Three Rivers Crisis Center.

“We heard the upstairs smoke alarm start beeping. I looked up and I could see smoke rolling out onto Dakota Ave. We evacuated the building as quickly as we could,” Susan Rittenour, director of the crisis center, said.

Meanwhile, a woman got multiple calls at work saying her apartment was a fire. We spoke to her as she was waiting for the building to be cleared. The blaze broke out in the unit next to hers.

“We already know we’re going to have to replace the beds and the furniture and stuff like that because it’s going to be smoke damaged,” Casey Rensvold said.

No one was injured in the fire. Firefighters say they knocked down the fire in about 15 minutes.

“It happened very quickly. From the time I saw the smoke, the fire spread very quickly. The fire department responded very quickly,” Rittenour said.

The cause hasn’t been determined.

“Right now we’re looking at what the fire marshal’s going to determine. There was for sure one cat that was deceased that we found,” Brett Lambrecht, director of emergency management in Richland County, said.

He says the building will be able to be repaired.

The crisis center on the first floor the building did have clients inside when the fire broke out. Those clients did get out safely, but the building does have a lot of water damage.

“Right now we’re working on seeing what we can salvage, if we can salvage any of our computers, get those out of harm’s way,” Rittenour said.

The Crisis Center says their 24-hour crisis line will still be available, and they’ll temporarily offer services in another location.

As for people in the apartments…

“The kids just got all their Christmas presents, and the room right next to it is the bedroom where they had all their Christmas presents. It is a very big worry,” Rensvold said.

The Red Cross is helping house people who won’t be able to go back home.

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News