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Fargo-Moorhead sees uptick in fires during recent winter season

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FARGO-MOORHEAD - Emergency crews say we've had more fires in the metro this winter than last winter.

People living in one townhome woke up to a destructive fire Sunday morning, leaving behind roughly half a million dollars in damages.

Fire fighters still don't know what caused it and residents are still not allowed to go back inside. You can still hear the smoke alarm blaring in the garage, three days later.

On Monday night in Moorhead, an arson fire sent one woman to the hospital. After looking back at the numbers, fire marshals found this winter was more fiery than the last.

"We noticed it going up throughout the year," said Dell Sprecher of the West Fargo Fire Department.

Crews in West Fargo were called out to 10 fires last winter and 17 fires this winter. Over in Moorhead, it stayed about the same with 18 last year and 19 this winter.

In West Fargo, cooking fires went up, caused by people walking away from hot food before it starts burning.

"Pay attention to it. Don't leave it unattended. We always tell people, if you're going to cook, stay with it at all times," Sprecher said.

Crews in Moorhead say they're seeing lots of smoking fires.

"If you're smoking outside, we recommend disposing of them in a metal container if at all possible and keeping it away from the siding," said Jeff Wallin of the Moorhead Fire Department.

They say with most of these fires, heavy damage was prevented thanks to early response times.

In West Fargo, they recently went from only having volunteers to being a full-time fire department.

"Our response time for volunteers is not bad by any means. But of course, when you put a full time department on, it does increase your response time dramatically," said Sprecher.

To thwart the flames early, they recommend changing smoke detector batteries twice a year and always keep a fire extinguisher inside.

Fire marshals say if you don't have a smoke detector or need one tested, they'll stop by and check it out free of charge.