Police are investigating a suspicious house fire at a south Bismarck home.

The Bismarck Fire Department responded around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday to heavy smoke at 1448 S. Third St. An initial fire crew found flames from the home's garage had spread to its kitchen and dining room.

Firefighters set up a hose line to fight the fire. More units arrived on scene to assist, totaling 18 firefighters on scene.

Bismarck Police were there as well while Central Dakota Communications directed radio traffic.

Homeowner Yvette Howell said she and her fiance, Spencer Norton, were away at the time. Her home sustained heavy fire and smoke damage to its garage and main floor.

"I lost a family member," Howell said, referring to her cat, Vernon. Her three dogs, Buckley, Zeena and Onyx, survived the fire.

She and Norton are at a Bismarck hotel for now. The Rev. Greg Carr, the fire department's chaplain, and the American Red Cross stepped in to help the displaced couple.

Battalion Chief Rob Carlson said the fire was suspicious in nature and is under police investigation. 

"The cause and origin of the fire is under investigation," Bismarck Police Sgt. Mark Buschena confirmed.

Howell said she was to meet with investigators Wednesday afternoon. She and Norton had previously spoken with detectives, she added.

"My house is a complete loss," Howell said. "It's not going to take a rocket scientist to figure that out."

The Third Street house fire is the second house fire in Bismarck in as many days, as well as the fourth fire in town since Friday.

The three other fires were ruled as accidental.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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