Scott Seroka, KARE
MINNEAPOLIS -- 14 people were injured, six critically, following an explosion and fire at a Minneapolis building housing apartments and a grocery store. Fire crews responded to the call at 516 Cedar around 8:15 a.m. on New Year's Day.
"When crews arrived, there were victims that were already outside of the structure. There was heavy fire on the second and third floors of the structure," Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said, before explaining that the flames were 20 feet high. "Crews made entry into the first floor of this structure but conditions became very (poor) very quickly. Crews had to back out of the structure and go to a defensive position outside of the building applying water," Fruetel added.
At the same time investigators were trying to figure out if there was anyone unaccounted for. Some believed that three people were not accounted for by mid-afternoon, but fire officials couldn't confirm the information.
"It's very early on in the investigation and it's going to certainly take us some time to try to determine the cause and/or origin," the Chief told reporters.
There were believed to be nine occupied apartments above the market. Fire officials say the second and third floors collapsed shortly after they arrived.
"It's pretty much gone from what it looks like," Ben Macy, who lives across the street from the building, said. Dozens of people braved the cold and headed to the scene, which represents a cultural center in the Cedar/Riverside neighborhood. "We found out that it was the 500 block, so then we were worried about the mosque and the grocery store," Fartun Ahmed said.
"We don't know the reason for the fire, we don't know the extent of it but we do know there are family and loved ones right now who need our hopes and our prayers because this is obviously a very, very difficult and potentially tragic event," Mayor RT Rybak said.
"This is clearly a tragic morning in the City of Minneapolis," Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges concluded.