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Published April 06, 2013, 05:47 PM

Victims named in fatal Fargo apartment fire that saw ladder rescues, residents jumping from balconies

FARGO – A man died and a woman was seriously injured in an apartment fire this morning at 925 Page Drive that saw some residents rescued by ladder from balconies and one family jumping from a balcony to safety.

By: Charly Haley, The Forum, INFORUM, Forum News Service

FARGO – A man died and a woman was seriously injured in an apartment fire this morning at 925 Page Drive that saw some residents rescued by ladder from balconies and one family jumping from a balcony to safety.

Jesse Daniel Madson, 30, died in the blaze. Angela Marie Wentz, 42, was taken by air ambulance to an unnamed Twin Cities burn unit hospital. Her condition is unknown at this time, according to Fargo fire officials.

Jerome Jangula, who lived in the apartment below the fatality, said he and another neighbor woke up to fire alarms around 5:15 a.m. and knocked on doors, helping people get out. Jangula said they tried to enter the unit with the fatality but couldn't see anything in the black smoke and had to retreat.

“I just feel for the family,” Jangula said. “This is going to stick with me for a long time.”

When firefighters arrived on scene around 5:30 a.m., flames could be seen coming from a second-floor unit onto the balcony, fire officials said. The three-floor apartment complex has 20 units, according to apartmentshq.com.

Firefighters rescued four people from two different balconies using ground ladders, said Assistant Fire Chief LeRoy Skarloken. One family reportedly escaped by jumping from a balcony before fire crews arrived.

No others were injured in the blaze, but 16 residents were displaced.

When fire crews entered the building, they encountered heavy smoke on the second and third floors. The building was searched and all remaining residents were safely removed.

The fire was put out within 10 to 15 minutes, Skarloken said. Shortly after, the two victims were removed from the apartment.

The fire itself was contained to the one apartment unit, which is totally destroyed. The rest of the building suffered smoke and water damage. Skarloken said the construction of the building helped contain the fire because of steel siding and double sheetrock in the walls and ceiling.

Fire investigators completed their investigation around 11:30 a.m., and labeled the case as undetermined, said Battalion Chief Chris Rasmussen. They discovered the fire started in the living room, he said.

The Red Cross was on scene, aiding people who live in the building.

Jean Murphy, who lives in the unit across the hall from the unit with the fatality, was awakened by her daughter, who also lives in the building. Murphy said residents will be staying in a motel for a few days. She said she was waiting for the Red Cross to provide her with more information.

The American Red Cross set up a shelter at Carl Ben Eielson Middle School for those who needed it. Later in the afternoon, residents were given hotel rooms to stay in until Tuesday, when they are expected to be able to return to the complex.

“We want to make sure all the individuals and families affected by this fire experience care, comfort, and hope today and going forward until they can get back into their homes,” said Red Cross Regional CEO Judy Green.

The Moorhead Fire Department, the Fargo Police Department, FM Ambulance and the Salvation Army also responded to the scene.

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