Death almost came for North Dakota firefighters battling downtown arson 22 years ago

  • Source: Brainerd Dispatch - Metered Site
  • Published: 01/26/2022 12:00 AM

PHOTOS: Virtually every time firefighters Mike Hendrickson and Jesse Schmidt pass by the empty lot on the west side of Broadway in downtown Fargo, they think about the day nearly 22 years ago they almost died there on the job. Reflecting on the arson fire at the Tropics nightclub on Sunday, April 30, 2000, can prompt a visceral response. “Even discussing it … makes the hair on my arms still stand up,” Hendrickson said. The two men, among the first on scene at 58 Broadway in the pre-dawn hours, came within a few feet of being crushed by a massive boiler that fell through the floor above them. They and others also escaped a backdraft that broke windows and sent flames rolling out onto Broadway. “We were very lucky,” Schmidt said. It was the worst fire in downtown Fargo since 1893, when blocks of wooden buildings in the business district and many homes were burned.


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