At 3:01 p.m. on Monday March 22, the Bemidji, Minn. Fire Department received a call for a fire on the third floor balcony at the Regency Park Apartment complex.
Bemidji Fire Engine-2 responded with four firefighters including Chief Dave Hoefer.
Crews found a 63 unit three-story wood-frame apartment complex with fire on a third floor balcony with smoke and fire from roof vents near the peak of the roof. The fire had traveled from the third floor balcony up and into the attic space. While the building was sprinkled in all living spaces, the attic was a non-sprinkled area allowing the fire to spread un-checked.
Hoefer assigned crews to begin an initial attack on the third floor. They were able to locate the fire in the attic space.
Several hand lines were stretched to the interior of the complex while crews began to provide vertical ventilation and trench cut operations on the roof. A coordinated fire attack from inside and outside of the structure was conducted stopping the fire from spreading further.
Hoefer credits the aggressive tactics and hard work of his firefighters in helping to contain the fire to only the middle portion of the complex preventing further loss to the structure.
Bemidji Fire Department had 40 firefighters on scene. Others included Bagley, Blackduck, Solway, Cass Lake, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Only seven of the 63 units are being listed as a total loss as a result of the fire. The building has been deemed unsafe including, Hoefer’s first floor apartment.
Residents have been allowed to retrieve personal affects from their units, and are receiving assistance from the management company in finding alternative housing while renovations occur.
No residents were injured in the fire.
A Bemidji firefighter was transported to a local hospital and later released.