By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Walker Community Church fire on May 27 was caused by lightning and injured five firefighters as they fought the blaze.

And now those firefighters are blaming budget cuts for their injuries.

With her left hand bandaged from serious burns, firefighter Christie Nixon described the harrowing details of the night Walker Church burned down.

“It was a stormy night and there were a lot of things happening,” Nixon said.

Lower staffing and budget cuts have Nixon and firefighters pointing their finger at the Capitol.

“We need 67 additional firefighters right now in Minneapolis,” Nixon said. “Obviously, the city of Minneapolis cannot afford to fund 67 firefighters.”

One firefighter said public safety cuts cannot be linked to Walker Church injuries, but that overall, the department is stretched too thin.

“Because of funding, we are not being provided the resources to do the job that the residents of Minneapolis expect us to do,” said Capt. Joseph Mattison of the Minneapolis Fire Dept.

Only two DFL Senators showed up for the unusual hearing. And Republicans said they were never notified.

But a Minneapolis lawmaker used to forum to make a pitch for more state aid to cities.

“In a way we were lucky,” Sen. Patricia Torres Ray said. “We didn’t lose one of our firefighters. But we could have. We were very close.”


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