There was a New Year's tragedy today when an early morning explosion resulted in a fire inside a three-story building containing apartments and a grocery store. There have been at least 14 reported injuries with 6 being in critical condition from the fire located within Minneapolis' Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Some of the victims have been transported to Hennepin County Medical Center.
According to Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel, "Not everybody has been accounted for in this building. It is possible that some are still inside." Since authorities did not have an official count regarding the number of individuals who were actually inside the building when the fire erupted, there have been additional complications during the search and rescue process to ensure the safety of those involved.
John Fruetel explained how rescue efforts were hindered by the intensity of the fire. "Upon arrival, crews made entry into the first floor of this structure. Conditions became untenable very quickly, with major fires coming out of the second and third floors. Crews had to back out and go into defensive position outside of the building, applying water." Fruetel said.
Present reports have not specified whether additional nearby businesses suffered from the explosion. Palmer's Bar is located on the same block as the fire, and there is a mosque within the same vicinity though neither have reported damages.
According to Hennepin County Emergency Medical Services spokesperson Robert Ball, "It's not clear whether people were pushed out of the building from the explosion or whether they fell or jumped out of windows to escape."
At this time, authorities have not determined the cause of the explosion and fire. The building was last inspected in 2012, and according to a Minneapolis Fire Department release there were no lingering concerns from the inspection.
Roughly 50 firefighters were involved with the exhaustive rescue efforts. "I know we've had a number of trips and falls but no reported injuries (to firefigthers), which is remarkable," Freutel shared.
Image Via NDN