Minneapolis High-Rise Fire Kills Five, Injures Four

When crews reached the scene, they found flames shooting from a window on the 14th floor of the south Minneapolis building early Wednesday.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Minneapolis firefighters leave the scene of a deadly fire at a high-rise apartment building early Wednesday.
Minneapolis firefighters leave the scene of a deadly fire at a high-rise apartment building early Wednesday.
David Joles/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS

MINNEAPOLIS—Five people died early Wednesday in a fire on the 14th floor of a south Minneapolis high-rise, and three others were hospitalized, authorities said.

The blaze in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood broke out around 4 a.m. in a building in the 600 block of Cedar Avenue South near downtown Minneapolis and was extinguished within 30 minutes, the Minneapolis Fire Department said.

“Very tragic night at the beginning of a holiday weekend,” Fire Chief John Fruetel said during a predawn news media briefing outside the 24-story building.

Crews were called around 4 a.m. and arrived to find flames shooting out of windows on the 14th floor. They encountered heavy smoke as they got onto the floor to search for residents.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had five people deceased in the fire,” the chief said, adding that they were in different units on the 14th floor. Four were pronounced dead at the scene, and a fifth victim found in a stairwell died at the hospital, the Fire Department said.

One person who could not use the stairs to escape had to be helped out from the 13th-floor elevator, fire officials said.

By the time firefighters arrived, “the fire had a pretty good head start on us,” Fruetel said. “It had been burning for a while.”

Along with attacking the floors where the fire was burning, firefighters had to search the 10 floors above, the chief said. One resident on the 21st floor resisted being evacuated, according to the Fire Department.

The chief said that “most of the units are probably going to be uninhabitable.”

Three other people “were quickly removed down the stairwell and put on a waiting elevator” and taken by ambulance to a hospital for treatment, the chief said. Their conditions were unknown. A firefighter was being examined for a minor injury, he said.

The fire was reported to be out as of 5:30 a.m., the Fire Department said. Still no word on how the fire started.

Wednesday’s death toll as it stands matches the number who died in a blaze in February 2014, when five children from the same family died after their north Minneapolis duplex in the 2800 block of Colfax Avenue caught fire.

In October 2015, three children died in a fire in the 2700 block of Penn Avenue North in Minneapolis.

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