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Electrical malfunction caused fire in historic ND dance barn, officials believe


ARTHUR, N.D. – Investigators and insurance agents spent Halloween morning in the ashes of Arthur’s Barn, and they concluded that the longtime country music venue burned to the ground last week because of an electrical malfunction.

“There is nothing determining that it was anything but accidental,” said Steve Gabrielson, an investigator with the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.

Gabrielson said investigators determined that the Thursday, Oct. 26, fire started on the ground level of the west side of the barn near the electrical junction box. Gabrielson said looking at the wiring it’s believed heavy winds caused wires to touch and surge.

The junction box was heavily damaged, and he said the “overloaded” electrical unit appears to be where the fire originated.

A nearby town reported winds of up to 46 mph, Gabrielson said, so gusts were somewhere in that range.

Arthur’s Barn, formerly Johnson’s Barn, hosted dances and concerts since the 1950s. There was a switch in owners in 2015 as Brian and Becky Johnson sold the barn to Delon and Julie Cahoon of Casselton. The Cahoons had events planned through the end of the year.

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