A bread box and some dishes are all that remains of Laurie Parsons burnt out kitchen at 2240 B Almond Gardens Rd. East. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Fire leaves Grand Forks cancer patient homeless, destroys garage

Grand Forks Fire/Rescue is investigating the fire

  • Mar. 30, 2021 12:00 a.m.

A Grand Forks woman battling cancer is homeless after a fire destroyed her house, briefly knocking out power across much of the city.

The Monday (March 29) night blaze is now being investigated by Grand Forks Fire/Rescue.

Volunteer firefighters were called to the fire at 2240 B Almond Gardens Road East at around 10 p.m., following several 911 reports of explosions heard in the area, according to Dep. Fire Chief Stephane Dionne. Crews arrived on-scene to find multiple structures engulfed in flames, he said.

The fire destroyed Laurie Parson’s rental home and a private garage on the property. Parsons is being put up at a city motel by the Canadian Red Cross but said she is still looking for her cat, Little Bear, last seen running from the scene at around 5 a.m, Tuesday.

Laurie Parsons is looking for her three-year old shorthaired cat, “Little Bear” — one of her few companions while she has been undergoing cancer treatment. Photo courtesy of Laurie Parsons

“He keeps me going,” Parsons said, explaining that she is being treated for cancer. Parsons thanked the fire department, whose members managed to save framed pictures of her son, Todd and her departed father, Lawrence.

“Bear” Brandow, who ran the burnt-out garage, said he lost upwards of $250,000 worth of tools and hunting equipment stored at the property. His truck was also destroyed in the fire, he said.

Dionne said he hadn’t determined the cause of the blaze as of Tuesday morning. The reported explosions came from welding torches at the shed near the scene, he said.

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Electric power was cut to much of Grand Forks for around an hour after a power line caught fire above Parson’s home.

Anyone who thinks they have seen Little Bear is asked to phone The Gazette at 250-442-7086, or Boundary Helping Hands Feline Rescue Society at (250) 801-0519.

CORRECTION: The Gazette initially referred colloquially to the garage at 2240 B Almond Gardens Rd. East as “a mechanic shop.” The garage was run privately — not as a business. The Gazette sincerely regrets any ensuing confusion.


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Grand Forks Gazette