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WDAY: The News Leader

Published September 02, 2013, 06:49 PM

"60 on 6": Downtown Fargo Fire

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Tonight, a spring fire in downtown Fargo that would change the face of Broadway happened the end of April 2000.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - We are celebrating our 60 years on the air here at WDAY TV with a "special story" every week focusing on events that impacted our region over those years.

Tonight, a spring fire in downtown Fargo that would change the face of Broadway happened the end of April 2000.

Smoke that Sunday filled downtown as fire exploded through the heart of Broadway. It started in the Tropics Nightclub in a brick building just north of what is now Fort Noks.

Asst. Chief- “As far as we knew, everyone was out of the building and we packed our lines.”

Three brick buildings would collapse. And the Fargo Fire Department would barely escape tragedy; a dangerous back-draft: An explosion blew out the front of one of the buildings. At the same time, false ceilings and compromised flooring nearly cost the department lives.

Three brick buildings would he destroyed; three businesses gone. Apartment dwellers got out unharmed and for the next several days, nearby business owners tried to salvage what was left behind.

Just one day after the fire, the owner of Tropics Nightclub, John Maurer, would be arrested. There was proof he bought gasoline that night and started the fire. And as police questioned him, the story became more bizarre.

The legend bar next door Lauerman's survived the fire and opened the next day.

John Maurer was sentenced to five years in prison.

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