Fire Destroys Home in North Dakota

Fire consumed a rural Grand Forks county home Wednesday afternoon, despite the quick reaction of firefighters who were at an exercise nearby.

The white two-story house a few miles northwest of the airport belonged to Ronald Clemetson, his wife, Terrie, and their five boys. None of them were at home when the fire started and no one was hurt, but the home was a complete loss.

Clemetson, who works at American Crystal Sugar Co., said he only learned of the fire when a neighbor called at work. While Clemetson watched his house burn, police still were trying to contact his wife who was assumed to be driving in her car.

The volunteer fire departments of Emerado, Manvel and Thompson, N.D., were training for an airplane accident at the sewage lagoons near the airport when they got the call about 2:50 p.m. But by the time they arrived, the house was engulfed in flames, according to the sheriff's department, which also responded along with Altru ambulances.

The fire, driven by wind whipping from the south, was so intense it scorched the trees in the nearby shelter belt to the top. Manvel fire chief Steve Schumer said it took firefighters about 45 minutes to get the fire under control.

Neighbor Everett Haugen said most people thought Clemetson was burning something out back. It wasn't until a farmer drove by in a tractor that anyone realized it was a house fire, he said.

Clemetson, as he waited for his wife, said he doesn't "have a clue" what he'll do next.

The fire did spare his farm equipment and storage sheds.

The sheriff's department and the state fire marshal's office are investigating the cause of the fire.

Distributed by the Associated Press