BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — At least nine people were taken to the hospital after a fire broke out at a Bloomington apartment complex Tuesday morning.
The fire happened on the 9800 block of Nicollet Avenue South. It is still unclear what may have caused the fire.
Police said that some tenants punched out windows on the second and third floors to escape their units.
Parents dropped at least five children from the windows to safety. An officer described one parent angling their child head-first from the window.
“My cousin told me to get out. He busted out the window with his fist, tossed me out in the snow and I ran around in my underwear in the snow,” said 9-year-old Drewjuan White.
The boy’s grandpa, other residents and police officers caught children who were dangling from windows.
“People were yelling, ‘Help! Help!’ I was catching babies out the back window,” said Willie Wheeler. “We heard people in the hallway yell the building is on fire.”
The family was reunited at the shelter Tuesday afternoon after White’s mother and his 2-year-old brother were released from the hospital.
A number of the people taken to the hospital were children. Some people suffered smoke inhalation, other cuts from broken glass.
Residents, as well as some firefighters, were staying warm on buses.
The Red Cross is providing help for at least 32 people who were displaced by the fire. Bloomington Police Commander Mark Stehlik said some residents are staying at Kennedy High School temporarily until space can be found at a local church.
A few of the 11 units escaped without much damage and some residents were allowed back in for a short while Tuesday to retrieve their personal belongings.
Firefighters say the apartments where the doors stayed closed survived the fire in the best condition but the building is now uninhabitable.
Some residents said they smelled natural gas before the fire began. Investigators say there is nothing suspicious about its cause but it is still under investigation as to how it started.