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Fire destroys rural Harwood, N.D. home

HARWOOD, N.D. - A fire of undetermined cause destroyed a rural home early today, but the owner was able to escape safely thanks to a smoke detector.

Chris Gourde was awakened at about 1:30 a.m. when his smoke alarm sounded. He escaped with a sweat shirt and pants.

"I was able to grab that and run out and that was about all I got," he said.

The house, all its con-tents and two pet dogs were lost in the fire, Gourd added.

"I'm alive today because of smoke alarms," he said.

Firefighters had difficulty reaching the farm-stead, located two miles west and one mile north of Harwood at 2876 169th Ave. S.E., because of flooding.

Twenty minutes after the fire was reported, Gourde received a call from a dispatcher saying firefighters weren't able to reach the home, surrounded by water on three sides but on high ground.

Gourde was alone in the house because of access problems. His wife, Amy, and children were staying in Fargo with relatives.

Firefighters from Harwood, Grandin, Gardner, Argusville and West Fargo battled the blaze for more than two hours, but the fire was too advanced to save the house.

"After 2½ hours of fighting it, it just collapsed," Gourde said.

West Fargo firefighters responded with a tanker truck that got mired in a muddy road and had to be towed out, said Roy Schatschneider, the West Fargo fire chief.

The cause of the fire, which started in the basement, was unknown, Gourde said. He said the door leading to the basement was closed, which helped contain the smoke.