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North Dakota House Fire Kills 9, Including 4 Children

October 7, 1994

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. (AP) _ A fire that may have been sparked by burning food or faulty stove wiring raced through a house early Friday, killing nine people, including four children.

The victims, believed to members of the same family, were found near their beds. They were not immediately identified.

The children ranged in age from 5 to 12, Police Chief Bruce Kemmet said.

The house passed a safety inspection in June, and the family moved in in July, said Monte Engel, director of the House Assistance Program in Devils Lake. He said the house had working smoke detectors at the time.

Food on the stove may have caused the fire, or the stove itself may have been at fault, Fire Chief William Oehlke said. Authorities were checking other possibilities as well. They did not suspect arson.

Joel Lenoir, who said one of the victims was his cousin, stopped by to lay flowers on the sidewalk. ″It’s just horrible,″ he said. ″They were a good family.″

Julie Zander, a neighbor in this farming and resort community of about 7,000, said she had been awakened by an explosion.

Authorities said flames engulfed the house in minutes. Firefighters contained the blaze within about 20 minutes.

″We could see flames shooting out the window,″ Zander said. ″The smoke was so thick, we couldn’t see the house across the way.″

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