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Published November 12, 2013, 07:14 PM

Abercrombie elevator damaged by fire

Abercrombie, ND (WDAY TV) – Eight fire departments, totaling more than 100 firefighters responded to that fire Tuesday about 6 a.m. in Abercrombie, that's when the problems began.

Abercrombie, ND (WDAY TV) – Eight fire departments, totaling more than 100 firefighters responded to that fire Tuesday about 6 a.m. in Abercrombie, that's when the problems began.

Some of the local crews were the last to know about the fire.

The department had to go "old school" to alert firefighters.

The fire took out the paging system in the old elevator - which was on fire.

That system would have alerted first responders to the fire.

As flames lit up the morning sky - smoke rose.

Kevin Bernier/Chief, Abercrombie Fire: "This morning I received a cell phone call shortly after 6 o'clock from dispatch asking if we'd received the 3 pages."

Fire Chief Kevin Bernier says he and his crew were unaware they were needed.

Wes Heyen/Abercrombie Fire: "Our repeater wasn't going because it was on fire"

Their radio or repeater as they call it is housed at the old grain elevator.

Bernier: "It's the tallest building in Abercrombie so we run our antenna up there and have our radio repeater here, so I was unable to page my firefighters."

So, Bernier took matter into his own hands.

Bernier: "Manually operated the fire siren."

He says the fact that the pager system burned up...delayed their response time.

Bernier: "If we would have gotten here 10 minutes earlier I think we would have saved a lot of the office - it wouldn't have gotten into the office as much."

Although no longer a working grain elevator, the facility now holds grain - for a local farmer, Steven Gunness, who purchased the building a few years back.

While the cause of the fire is under investigation, fire crews have some ideas.

The fire chief says Gunness was unloading grain last night and a hot bearing in the leg system may have sparked, igniting the fire.

Bernie: "He also had a truck he pulled into there and had it plugged up to a block heater, may have overheated the electrical cord."

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