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Update: Explosion, fire at Minneapolis apartment building injures 14, 6 critically

Photo: St. Paul Pioneer Press

By Will Ashenmacher and Nick Woltman

St. Paul Pioneer Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- An apparent explosion Wednesday resulted in an early-morning fire at a three-story building in a Minneapolis neighborhood. Early reports indicated that 14 people had been injured, six of them critically.

“Not everyone’s accounted for in the building as of yet,” Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said at a press conference outside the fire, at the three-story brick structure at 516 Cedar Ave. in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. 

Fruetel added that it isn’t known how many people were in the building, with a grocery store at street level and apartments above, when the fire broke out at 8:16 a.m., so it can’t be determined yet how many need to be located. He said it’s possible that there were people still inside.

Authorities said it’s too early to tell what caused the explosion and fire.

In an audio file of the police call that reported the fire, an officer could be heard saying that people were jumping from second-floor windows and that injured residents were on the street. Fruetel said flames were shooting as high as 20 feet from the windows of the building’s second and third floors when fire crews arrived.

A woman at the scene who lives nearby the building said her 7-year-old son woke her by saying, “‘Mommy, there are flames.”

“Every second, it seemed like a new flame,” said the woman, who declined to be identified.

An estimated 50 firefighters and several rigs were on the scene as of 9:30 a.m. Smoke from the fire clouded the neighborhood and the stretch of Interstate 94 that runs perpendicular to Cedar Avenue.

By 11:30 a.m. or so, it appeared that active efforts to fight the fire had largely concluded.

“Our thoughts are with people hurt in today’s apartment fire,” the city of Minneapolis said via Twitter. “Families affected can gather at the Brian Coyle Center nearby to stay updated.”

As of noon, media representatives were barred from the Brian Coyle Center.

The Salvation Army Northern Division was working with first responders at the scene and tweeted that it was “preparing to serve families as needed.”

Pioneer Press staff member C.J. Sinner contributed to this report.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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