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78-year-old North Dakota man dies in house fire

A fire reported at 12:23 a.m. Wednesday took the life of a Thompson, N.D., man.

The body of 78-year-old Norman Fillbrandt was found on the floor of a mudroom connecting his house and garage, said Maj. Bob Rost of the Grand Forks Sheriff's Department.

While investigators are trying to determine how the fire started, Rost said, it does not appear foul play was involved. The blaze originated somewhere in the mudroom or garage, he said.

A passing motorist alerted authorities to the fire, and it took about an hour for fire crews from Thompson, Reynolds and Manvel to contain the blaze, Rost said.

Rost said the fire destroyed the mudroom and garage and reached the house somewhat. "The whole house is full of soot," he said. "The fire got into the kitchen area."

Rost described the damage as "very extensive." "I wouldn't be surprised if the place is a total loss," he said, adding that a 2002 Ford Taurus burned in the fire.

Fillbrandt lived alone in the three-bedroom rambler at 405 Broadway, Rost said.

The state fire marshal's office, sheriff's department and Thompson Police Department are investigating the blaze.

Rost said the coroner would decide whether an autopsy would be necessary.