Officials investigating a Mandan apartment building fire that displaced dozens of families say the blaze appears to be accidental, though the cause is still not known. They also believe the building can be saved.

The only structural damage to the 42-unit apartment is the third-floor roof, according to Mandan Building Official Shawn Ouradnik, who inspected Sunset Bluffs apartments on 31st Street NW along with Fire Chief Steve Nardello.

"We didn't see anything that seemed to be buckling; we didn't notice any bounce in the floors; we didn't notice any walls that seemed to be having any structural issues, say in the stairwells or supporting walls, when the fire chief and I went through it," Ouradnik said Thursday.

"The roof on the third floor is where most of the damage went," he said. "There is a little bit of damage in one of the stairwells because of the roof collapsing. But other than that, largely there was no structure damage that we could observe."

It will be up to the property owners to determine if rebuilding is an option. Officials were not available for comment Thursday afternoon.

No one was hurt in the fire, though seven firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion. Apartment tenants have since been allowed to retrieve belongings from the building, according to Ouradnik.

Many of the residents are staying at The Blackstone Hotel in Mandan, where general manager Jade Richmond offered discounted rooms. She said she checked out "about 28 rooms," with support from the Mandan Progress Organization's Be A Good Neighbor fund, which paid for 11. The Salvation Army is donating $4,000, which the hotel will use to help displaced tenants who need more time to find new homes, she said.

Local nonprofit Aid Inc. on Thursday was taking over the task of managing donations.

"We are getting everything out (from the hotel) right now," Richmond said. "We have six large trailers — I'm talking semitrailers of stuff for everybody."

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Reach Andy Tsubasa Field at 701-250-8264 or andy.field@bismarcktribune.com.


City Government Reporter