A fire Monday night at the three-story, 54-unit Mountain View Estates apartment building in Detroit Lakes could have been a lot worse if new owners hadn’t just put in an alarm system, said Detroit Lakes Fire Chief Ryan Swanson.

When firefighters arrived at the second-floor apartment just after 10 p.m. Jan. 6, an alarm was screaming “fire,” Swanson said. The apartment occupant was away at work, and Detroit Lakes police officers, who got there just before firefighters, found a small fire smoldering in a pile of clothing on the floor, where the carpeting was also partially burned. The fire may have been caused by a cigarette that had not been put out, Swanson said.

The new alarm system sent a notification to an alarm company, which notified the Detroit Lakes Fire Department, allowing firefighters to put out the fire before it became a big problem, Swanson said.

“We didn’t have to evacuate the building.” he said. Firefighters used large fans to blow the smoke out of the apartment, which took about 20 minutes, he said.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Swanson said. Last year an apartment caught fire at Mountain View and caused a lot more damage, although it was also contained to that one apartment, he said.

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Detroit Lakes firefighters also responded to a suspicious car fire just after 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7, on the 400 block of Lake Avenue.

The owner of the older-model Ford Escape had last driven the car about five hours earlier and hadn’t noticed any problems. The fire started in the engine compartment and was just spreading to the interior through the ventilation system when firefighters arrived, Swanson said.

Swanson asks anyone who may have witnessed suspicious activity or recorded it with security cameras in the vicinity of the 400 block of Lake Avenue (just south of the Union Square Apartments) to call the Detroit Lakes Police Department.