MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An apartment complex just south of downtown Minneapolis is a total loss after a fire that reached at least three alarms overnight.

The fire broke out at a building on 17th Street East near 2nd Avenue South. The fire was called into authorities at about 2 a.m., was a two-alarm fire by 2:54 a.m. and grew to a three-alarm fire by shortly after 3 a.m., authorities said.

The fire began in a ground-floor corner, but spread quickly through all floors. Crews said the flames spread up and out.

The flames and smoke were so thick and lasted so long, they also slowed down traffic throughout the morning rush.

The St. George Apartments complex has 32 units, and was built in 1919. Because of the building’s age, crews said the fire was particularly stubborn, and they were still working on the fire throughout the morning. Each time they thought they had it under control, it would flare up again.

Everyone made it out safely and there were no injuries to any residents, but they lost nearly everything they owned. One firefighter suffered a minor injury, but was able to stay at the scene to continue battling the blaze.

Resident Cynthia Hampton said she thought it was a false alarm when the sound of smoke alarms rang through the building in the middle of the night. But the smell of something burning and engine sirens told otherwise.

“I heard crackling, but I had no idea it was fire,” said Hampton. “As I started hearing people run through, noises, and smoke alarms, I figured I better get up.”

Hampton used the light from her phone to help guide her out the door and down the hall.

“[The fire] seemed really small, but after I saw the flames coming through my window, I broke down and knew it’s gotten really bad.”

Hampton watched in shock as the flames tore through the roof, lighting up the downtown skyline.

“I lost everything, everything I absolutely owned in that fire, everything,” she said.

Like many others in the apartment building, Hampton doesn’t have renters insurance. She escaped with the clothes on her back and her purse.

She said she’s grateful everyone made it out safely, but is having a difficult time coping with what just happened.

“I just walk by faith. Hopefully God gives me the help and strength and lead the way for me, cause I have no idea.”

Hampton’s co-workers at Hennepin County are trying to see what they can do to help her out.

There are at least 30 other people who are now trying to find a place to stay and put their lives back together. Salvation Army and Red Cross are working to help them out.

Mattress Firm, which is taking over Mattress Giant stores in the metro area, is offering those affected by the fire new beds, according to The Salvation Army. Mattress Firm will also be collecting gently-used clothing, bedding and hygiene supplies at the company’s 15 locations starting Sunday. The drive will last a week.

Comments (13)
  1. Nevermind says:

    Best wishes to the victims.

  2. O Bush Ma says:

    For sure! The DEVILS WEED is always the problem! Darn pot heads!

  3. Dave says:

    Fantastic display of empathy. You’re a shining example of human decency.

  4. Tess says:

    I don’t understand why people don’t have renters insurance. It’s not that expensive. A $10,000 policy costs less than $50 a year.

    1. Reality says:

      Are you crazy try $150 a year. Guess what not everyone can afford all the extra things in life. You make $10 bucks and hour and see how far that goes.

      1. Greg says:

        All you have to do is rearange your priorties! What is more importan insurence or your 60″ flat screen, your IPOD, your IPAD, smart phone and so on.

        1. EXACTLY!!!!! says:

          Well said TESS & GREG!
          Renter’s insurance is soooo affordable and worth it!
          I was surprised at how inexpensive it was to buy.
          (Honestly, cut out the cigarettes, for two weeks, and you’ve got your renter’s insurance covered for a year!)
          Best wishes to the victims…what a terrible thing to go through.

          1. Fred says:

            most insurance companies give you a discount for multiple policies and when I rented and had insurance, it barely cost me anything a month because of the discount with having my car insurance with them too.

      2. Matt says:

        State Farm had an ad where it was $3/mo ($36/year) with car insurance, so without car insurance it can’t be that much more so $50/year sounds correct.

    2. Mmmmhmmm says:

      I agree, I pay under $10/month for $25,000 policy. If you can afford your own place, you CAN afford $10/month!

  5. Sympathetic says:

    Most of the tenants are between 20-30 years old. I’m sure they weren’t planning on living there long term, so renters insurance might be viewed as an unnecessary expense. No one wants to think their home is going to burn down.

  6. Rob says:

    NO one thinks they’ll get cancer or get sick, but we have to try to have health insurance too. I’ve never been in a car accident in my 24 years of driving a car, but I still have car insurance. In the end, it’s a life’s lesson. I do agree, it is the priorities in life. Instead of buying that 60 inch tv or iPhone with full data plan… wouldn’t that money be spent better to protect what you do own? Obviously, this doesn’t include everyone… but probably a good majority.

  7. shebikes says:

    You people are pathetically unsympathetic. One of my co-workers lost EVERYTHING in that fire….we have gathered around her and are helping her replace all she owned…what are you folks doing to help these people out, rather than sit there and blurt out mean things about people you know nothing about? Get out your wallets! No one in these apartments owned a 60″ big screen TV!

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