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Friendship formed after Sunset Bluffs apartment fire last year

Published: Jul. 11, 2020 at 8:03 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) -July 14, 2020 marks one year since the Sunset Bluffs Apartment fire in Mandan; a fire that displaced more than 40 families. People lost most or all of their belongings in the blaze but in this tragedy, a friendship was made.

We first spoke with former Sunset Bluffs resident, Briana Hauck around this time last year, minutes after she escaped with her keys, cat and whatever clothing she had on.

“I finally had my apartment together and then I...and then that day happened and it was just kind of like turning around and seeing the gravity of the situation. I’m like everything I worked so hard for just kind of...just like that it’s gone,” said former Sunset Bluffs resident, Briana Hauck.

Now she sits in her new apartment in Mandan, recounting what happened that day.

“I looked outside my window and I started seeing like these black shards just falling down and I was like: ‘oh my gosh, I gotta go’,” said Hauck.

She said most of the furniture and decor in her new home came from the community.

“I wouldn’t have anything if it weren’t for the community helping us to rebuild,” said Hauck.

One of those volunteers still meets with Briana several times a week, sitting at the very table she first brought to her new apartment last year.

“Did you get down to the river the other day?” asked former volunteer, Brenda Lunder.

Brenda Lunder, saw Briana’s interview the day of the fire.

“It was gut wrenching,” said Lunder.

But that's when she knew she needed to act.

“It just tore at my heart strings and I’m like: ‘there’s no way that I can just not do nothing to try and help these people out’,” said Lunder.

While furnishing Briana’s apartment, Brenda learned she was a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness holding sessions ever since. The pair even consider each other like family.

“She just kinda seems like a niece to me,” said Lunder.

Hauck said she plans to continue working her way through management levels at Anytime Fitness. Officials with the Mandan Fire Department told Your News Leader last August the fire was determined to be unintentional and they believe it could’ve started because someone improperly discarded smoking materials.

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