Reporting Bill Hudson
PLYMOUTH, Minn. (WCCO) – Towing suit cases, clothes baskets, garbage bags and barking dogs, residents of the Parkside Apartments at Medicine Lake grabbed what they could Friday.
They were fleeing their fire-damaged apartments, headed to whatever temporary shelters they could find. Amy Biegert looked at the fire damaged building and couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
“That the side of the building which is really close. All my stuff is gone, no renter’s insurance. That’s not good,” Biegert said.
It was 1 a.m. Friday when Sarah Northrup-Day smelled the smoke. Her boyfriend ran into her room in a panic. That’s when the two ran for the hallways. She escaped with just the clothes on her back.
“We were so in shock. There’s a fire and we gotta get out. We didn’t grab anything, we just left,” said Northrup-Day.
As the entire building evacuated to the streets, firefighters from Plymouth and 17 area departments battled to get it under control.
Two hours later the roof was gone, but not a single life was lost.
Plymouth Deputy Fire Chief Kip Springer said one resident was trapped on his second floor balcony.
“We did have to rescue him off the balcony. He was checked by the ambulance crew as well,” said Springer.
By daylight, damage to the top floor apartments became painfully clear. The entire roof structure and trusses were gone. Apartment units on the first and second floors suffered extensive water damage. Of the building’s 72 units, 36 of them have significant damage.
Residents suspect a candle lantern left burning on a balcony might be to blame. However, fire investigators say it could be weeks before a final determination can be made. They still need to get into the most severely burned apartments but will first wait for structural engineers to shore up the weakened building.
Cindy Grothe has a place for her family and pets, but she worries about all the others.
For us here in a pet friendly community a lot of people will be going to hotels. But they’re not going to take dogs and cats, that’s the hardest thing for some people,” Grothe said.
The American Red Cross is on the scene and is assisting those in need of emergency housing.