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One dies, one injured in Fergus Falls apartment fire

One person died and another was injured Tuesday night in an apartment fire that shook the building when at least two oxygen tanks exploded, Fergus Falls Fire Chief Mark Hovland said.

The fire was reported at about 9:30 p.m. at the two-story Sunrise Apartments on North Union at Fir Avenue, near Stop-N-Go.

When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting out of a living room window on the main floor and spreading into the apartment unit and roofline above, Hovland said.

Police, firefighters and ambulance crews helped to evacuate 46 people from the 28-unit building, he said.

Bystanders used a blanket to break the fall of one man who jumped out the window of his second-floor unit above the unit where the fire started, Hovland said, adding the man wasn't hurt.

Another man who tried to re-enter the building was taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation and burns of unknown severity, Hovland said.

Authorities are waiting for autopsy results before releasing the name of the person who died in the unit where the fire started, Hovland said. The person used a wheelchair, he said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. A deputy state fire marshal was on scene.

One of the units contained eight oxygen tanks used for medical purposes, and at least two of them exploded, Hovland said, adding tenants reported feeling the building shake.

Two main-level units and the two units above them sustained heavy fire damage and/or smoke damage, and firefighters had to cut open the roof in that area to reach the blaze, Hovland said.

A meeting for tenants is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. today. Hovland said it appears that all but the four damaged units are livable, though he added it will be up to the apartment manager to decide who can return to their units.

American Red Cross disaster response teams from Otter Tail County and Fargo-Moorhead were on scene to assist fire victims with shelter, clothing, and food, according to a news release.

Fire crews from Underwood and Elizabeth provided mutual aid to Fergus Falls firefighters, who cleared the scene at about 6 a.m., Hovland said. The Salvation Army also assisted at the scene.