Drone helped fight Fargo strip mall fire

Red River UAS Unit uses a device that uses thermal imaging to help fight the South Fargo fire.

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — Fire officials are still piecing together the cause of a South Fargo strip mall fire.

Businesses are left ruined after a fire tore through the Southpointe Business Park strip mall. Flames destroying Bodyworks Physical Therapy and Gigi’s Playhouse.

Our drone capturing the roof of Gigi’s Playhouse completely charred. Most of the building’s roof left destroyed. Workers coming out to help clean up the mess. Investigators say it could be weeks before we know how the blaze started. West Fargo Police showed up at the scene with a drone after flames broke out on Tuesday.

“It makes more sense for an officer to come to fly a drone for the fire department than it is for taking a firefighter away from his initial duties to come to fly the drone for us,” Red River UAS Unit Assistant Chief Drone Pilot Tyler Williams said.

Officer Williams is part of a multi-agency joint unit.

“Fargo Fire Department, West Fargo Fire Department, Fargo Police Department, West Fargo Police Department, Cass County Sheriff’s Office, we have a team called Red River UAS Unit. We’re able to help each other out on different calls,” Williams said.

The unit has three drones. One of them being able to detect thermal imaging to help fight the South Fargo fire.

“We use a thermal camera. Get up. Get a bird’s eye view of what’s going on. We can see hot spots. Throughout the fire. We can be in close proximity to the battalion chief to give him that information. We can actually pull it up, so he can look at it on his laptop and see exactly what’s going on. Where all his guys are at and where the fire is moving to,” Williams said.

Officer Williams says he noticed the Battalion Chief using the drone to coordinate his team.

Officer Williams and Fargo Fire Captain Chris Pieper flew the drone during the fire.

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