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Fire takes house on Johnson Flats

Firefighters watch as fire takes an old derelict house on Johnson Flats Saturday morning; Photo, Mona Mattei

Grand Forks residents flocked to the scene of billowing black smoke engulfing a house located at the end of 19 Street on Johnson Flats Saturday morning.

Although it appears as if the firefighters are not too interested in stopping the fire, incoming fire chief Dale Heriot said the whole event is an exercise.

Owners of the old building were concerned with liability as youth and possible squatters were using the house for parties, so they approached the fire department to burn it down.

"We don't usually get involved unless we can use it as a training exercise," explained Heriot.

The firefighters ran some live practice inside the house before allowing the flames to take the structure.

About 15 firefighters participated in the exercise, working to keep the burn under control, prevent grass fires, and ensure trees and other structures were safe.