A building that holds apartments and a small grocery store exploded and caught fire this morning, January 1, 2014, injuring 13 people.
Six of those people were considered critical, and all were rushed to local hospitals.
Robert Ball of Hennepin County EMS described the injuries as ranging from burns to trauma suffered while falling or jumping from windows.
“This is a tragic morning for the City of Minneapolis,” Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges said.
The Otanga Grocery store is on the ground floor, while the upper two floors hold nine or ten apartments.
Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said that victims were already outside the building and fire was pouring from the second and third floors when crews arrived. He said firefighters entered the first floor but were quickly forced to retreat when conditions became unsafe. The second and third floors of the structure collapsed soon afterwards, he said.
Frigid weather could have played a part in the difficulty as well as dangerous conditions the fire department faced in containing the fire more quickly. It was -1 degree Fahrenheit at the time.
Video from the scene showed flames shooting 20 feet from the building – as well as the victims, outside the building in the frigid cold with no coats or other cold weather protection.
Officials began interviewing the residents to try to determine if all were present, or if anyone was still in the building. Fruetel said it’s unclear whether everyone had been evacuated because it remained too dangerous for firefighters to sweep through the premises.
“Not everybody has been accounted for in this building,” Fruetel said. “It is possible that some are still inside.”
The three-alarm fire began at 8:16 a.m. according to fire crews.
Some people were injured from jumping out of windows, authorities told ABC News. The cause of the blaze isn’t yet known.
Authorities are presently setting up a family center nearby where people can come together, and learn more about the incident.
Image via YouTube