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Thanksgiving Day blaze causes estimated $410K in damages

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Dick Sathers, a Bemidji firefighter and former fire chief, said a backhoe was brought in to tear down the roof.

The fire, by about 1:45 p.m., was reported to be 50 percent contained.

Blackduck and Cass Lake firefighters supplemented the 30 Bemidji firefighters at the scene, Fire Chief David Hoefer said in a release late Thursday.

The Birchwood Color Center complex, located at 3406 Bemidji Ave. N., hosts several businesses, including the Birchwood Color Center, Junction Barber Shop and Ameriprise Financial.

The fire prompted a temporary closure of Bemidji Avenue North from 29th Street Northwest to Inglewood Street Northwest, allowing fire trucks and heavy equipment to reach the site of the fire.

“Firefighters encountered extensive fire inside the structure, however were able to confine the fire to the

business of origin,” Hoefer said.

The businesses and apartment were unoccupied at the time of the fire, Hoefer said.

There were no injuries reported.

The fire is under investigation by the Bemidji Fire Department, Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office and Bemidji Police Department.

Earlier in the day, a Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office news release said the fire appeared to have started somewhere in the center of the building.

The fire allowed Beltrami County to utilize its new CodeRed emergency warning system, which was deployed to notify residents in the immediate vicinity of the fire and the heavy smoke, which was dissipating by mid-afternoon, according to the release.

Bemidji Ambulance, Bemidji police and public works staff, Beltrami Industrial and Sparky’s Construction also provided assistance to firefighters at the scene.

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