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Cigarette butt container cause of Hillcrest Apartment building fire

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The cause of the fire that destroyed the Hillcrest Apartment building in south Brainerd on Sept. 27 — that left 20 people out of a home — has been determined.

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Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek said the fire was caused by a cigarette butt container that melted onto a deck of the second floor unit of the apartment.

Stunek said the fire was investigated by the fire department, the state fire marshal and insurance investigators.

The fire destroyed 12 units at the apartment and the estimated loss is $1 million.

More than 50 firefighters from Brainerd, Crosby and Nisswa battled the fire and Brainerd police, the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department, North Memorial Ambulance and the DNR assisted at the scene.

Kris Peterson, owner of the apartment building with Diversified Property Rentals, said the plan is to demolish the damaged apartment building by the end of the year. Peterson said if the weather cooperates they would like to rebuild the apartment in the spring of 2013.

Peterson said all the renters are welcome to come back to the apartment once it is built. However, she understands that many of the renters are now renting other property and have signed a new lease.

Peterson said everyone who lost their rental unit from the apartment fire, was able to find a new home. Peterson said it was nice to see the community come together after the fire, helping the families.

“It was a horrific, tragic event,” Peterson said of the fire. “But it was so amazing and heart warming to see everyone come together to help the families.”

Stunek also offered a huge thank you to the community for assisting everyone in the fire.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl.

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