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Fire in downtown Wadena displaces 7 apartment unit tenants

Firefighters knocked down the flames from the rear of the building and occupants were able to escape from the blaze.

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Wadena firefighters fight a fire above the KSKK Radio office in downtown Wadena on Wednesday, Oct. 20. The fire was coming from an apartment on the second level. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

WADENA — Firefighters knocked down an active fire just after 11 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 20, which had smoke rolling down Jefferson Street.

Flames could be seen pouring out from the rear of an apartment Wednesday morning as emergency workers fought the blaze above the KSKK Radio office. The apartments are above All Around Divas and Brinks Jewelry, and a total of seven apartment unit tenants were displaced.

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Black smoke was pouring out over downtown Wadena as a fire was burning the upper floor apartments above All Around Divas and Brinks Jewelry. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

The apartment owner said all occupants escaped from the building before the fire expanded. Within minutes after arriving, Wadena Fire Department personnel observed heavy fire on the east side of the building on the second story of the building off a flattop roof, according to a fire department news release. Fire personnel gained entry through the east side from an exterior staircase and additional fire personnel used the main entry on the west side door staircase into the upstairs hallway.

Smoke ventilation and checking for fire extension also happened quickly.

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At All Around Divas, a few customers and manager Sarah Hanna were in the store and all made it out safely. Co-owner Randy Peterson said they could hear yelling upstairs and smoke was coming into the store.

“It’s not going to be good,” Peterson said of the damage. “We’ve only been in here just over a month, and spent about a year getting it ready and the way we wanted it, got everything pretty much moved over. It is what it is.”

“As long as nobody got hurt and everybody got out,” he added, “you can always rebuild, you can always buy more clothes, get more stuff it’s just not easy getting stuff right now, … everything takes forever. If you order something now it takes three months for it to come in.”

Three commercial units below the apartments received water damage, according to the release.

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On Jefferson Street Wadena and Verndale firefighters were on scene adding more water and setting up a perimeter to keep people back from the fire. The fire departments were also assisted by the Wadena Police Department, Wadena County Sheriff's Office, Minnesota State Patrol, Tri County Ambulance and City of Wadena Public Works.

Displaced tenants are being assisted by the Red Cross.

While spraying water from the back, firefighters also had to contend with an electrical issue which was causing sparks to spray from the rooftop.

The cause of the fire is under investigation of the Wadena Fire Department and Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office.

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