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Fargo teenager saves home from flames

Cole Carlson, 16, looks up at the damage caused by a fire Sunday afternoon to his home in north Fargo. Carlson was able to confine the damage to the workshop and garage before the fire department arrived. (Dave Wallis / The Forum)

A Fargo teenager's quick actions Sunday afternoon are being credited with saving his family's home from fire.

When Cole Carlson, 16, smelled smoke about 1 p.m. Sunday, he followed his nose to the attached garage of his family's north Fargo home and saw a golden glow coming from inside.

Here's what happened next, according to Carlson:

He ran back into the house to wake up Lavi Padrone, an Italian exchange student living with the family, and then grabbed a fire extinguisher.

Carlson rushed to the garage to reach a small workshop where the fire was burning along an entire wall.

After using up the extinguisher, he grabbed another that was in the shop and put out the remaining flames, some of which had started burning through the wall of the shop and into the house itself. After the fire was out, Carlson dialed 911.

Acting Assistant Fargo Fire Chief Keith Johnson said he wouldn't second-guess Carlson's actions, stating every situation is different.

"He (Carlson) probably ended up saving a lot damage that could have happened to the house," said Johnson, adding that the fire was in a fairly open area and Carlson was able to knock it down quickly.

"If this (fire) would have been down in the basement and had it been burning a little bit longer would I recommend him going down with a small extinguisher? Of course not," said Johnson. "He (Carlson) probably wouldn't make it down the stairwell."

At the time of the fire, Carlson's parents, Kris and Todd, were watching their other son, Rhett, 15, play hockey.

"If he (Cole) had not been there, our house would have been gone," said Kris Carlson.

"I couldn't have done it," she added. "How many people are like me, who wouldn't know how to put out a fire?"

It wasn't the shop's first fire.

Cole Carlson said it caught fire in the same area about a year ago and he put out that blaze, too.

The Carlsons say the Fire Department hasn't pinned down a cause for either blaze.

Cole Carlson, who along with his father and brother use the shop for wood projects, thinks the problem might be "electrical, varnish, something like that."