Weather Forecast


Lost Bemidji man helps save couple's home from fire in western ND

Firefighters clean up the scene of a fire caused by a burning flower pot in a Dickinson, N.D., yard Wednesday. The fire was first noticed by a Bemidji, Minn., man who was lost in west Dickinson. DAIN SULLIVAN | FORUM COMMUNICATIONS CO.

DICKINSON, N.D. - A lost driver was in the right place at the right time Wednesday.

James Hyde of Bemidji said he was aimlessly driving around in search of a lumber store when he noticed flames curling up the siding of a west Dickinson home at about 1:50 p.m.

"I saw a fire on the porch up there next to the house, and I drove by and it's like, 'That ain't right,'" Hyde said.

Hyde added that after he tossed a burning flower pot onto the front lawn of the First Street West home, he grabbed a rug to extinguish the remaining fire.

"I just took the mat and got the fire out until (firefighters) got there, and poured dirt," he said.

Authorities say if Hyde had not been there, the entire home could have been lost.

"It's destiny for him to be here today," Dickinson Fire Department Capt. Deb Barros said.

Fire Chief Robert Sivak said the owners are lucky there was minimal damage and no one was hurt.

"We tore that siding off to make sure it hadn't penetrated the wall," Sivak said. "Talk about fortunate."

Hyde suffered minor burns on his hand, which paramedics treated at the scene.

Authorities said the fire originated in the flower pot, but are stumped as to how.

Homeowner Gail Yazzie said she and her husband were out of the house during the fire. She is also puzzled.

"I have no idea what happened. I've been at the dentist and class all day," Yazzie said.

While Yazzie thinks it was unfortunate the fire scorched part of her recently-built home, she expressed thanks to Hyde, firefighters and paramedics.

Sivak said there is not enough information to determine how the fire was started, but he thinks foul play is unlikely.

"This time of day, on a busy street in a well-occupied area, I don't know what would cause this to think that it was a prank or vandalism," he said. "It was more than likely an accidental situation."

Sivak added that Wednesday's fire is a reminder that people need to avoid exposing open flames, especially during dry weather.

"I've never seen conditions like this in my life," he said. "The way the conditions are right now, when the fire danger index is high or above, no patio fireplaces, no fire pits, nothing. It's just too dangerous."