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Press Photo by April Baumgarten Dickinson firefighters look on as comrades attempt to fight a fire and smoke that started Saturday in a stretch of buildings in downtown Dickinson. The fire shut down a portion of Villard Street for the afternoon.

Into the fire: Firefighters battle blaze, smoke in downtown Dickinson buildings

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Into the fire: Firefighters battle blaze, smoke in downtown Dickinson buildings
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

A fire scorched the inside of a building in downtown Dickinson on Saturday afternoon, damaging businesses and displacing at least five families.

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The fire began inside Bogey’s Diner a little after 5 p.m., according to witnesses. The diner and apartments above it were extensively burned, Dickinson Fire Chief Bob Sivak said. Both the first and second floors of the buildings next to it were enveloped by light to moderate smoke, he said.

Businesses Unique Nails and Karen & Friends Hair Studio were filled with smoke, as well as numerous apartments.

Firefighters extinguished the fire at approximately 8 p.m. and began to overhaul the building to prevent the fire from starting again. The fire’s cause is still under investigation, Sivak said.

After the fire started, authorities closed Villard Street from Sims Street to Third Avenue West, and both Dickinson Fire and Dickinson Rural Fire Departments were on scene.

A city firefighter was taken to the hospital after 6 p.m, wearing an oxygen mask as a paramedic poured water over his bare chest. Sivak declined to provide his name or condition.

No building occupants were injured, Sivak said, but a cat died from smoke inhalation.

Both the American Red Cross and Dickinson Emergency Services workers were on hand to help displaced individuals and families.

An alley behind the set of buildings played host to a festival earlier in the day for downtown businesses and food vendors. People filled the streets as firefighters battled the flames.

Residents stood outside their apartments in disbelief as the fire burned, some of them crying and hugging each other for comfort. One person was seen running along the sidewalk screaming, “My apartment!”

Corey Binkley lived in an apartment above the nail salon, which was severely damaged by smoke. Binkley said one of his previous homes was also burned in a fire, so he had “been through this once before.”

“Everything’s toast,” he said, pointing to his apartment. “My clothes, my drawing stuff, my games. I worked hard for that stuff.”

The Bogey’s building was built in the 1900s, according to a large sign on its second floor. Because of materials used in its construction, excavating the building would be extremely labor-intensive, Sivak said.

Marian Reker worked at Command Center, a staffing logistics company in the same building as Karen & Friends. Reker said she had enjoyed eating lunch at Bogey’s.

Reker was taking pictures as smoke came through her office.

“Look at it filling up,” she said.

Creighton Collier said he lives in an apartment above Command Center and hoped his work clothes could be saved from the smoke.

Collier came back to his apartment at about 5:15 p.m. after doing errands and said he saw smoke coming from second floor of the Bogey’s building. He said he thought the smoke wouldn’t reach his building, but it did.

City Administrator Shawn Kessel said at the scene at about 7 p.m. that firefighters were initially concerned with it fueling up on the second floors of Bogey’s and Karen & Friends.

After 7 p.m., firefighters broke windows at Bogey’s to allow smoke to escape.

In the aftermath of the fire, the Red Cross recommended that Dickinson residents install smoke alarms in their homes and make an emergency escape plan.

Press reporter Katherine Lymn and Assistant Editor April Baumgarten contributed to this report.