MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Rochester firefighters say they rescued a family from a second-floor apartment balcony early Tuesday morning after a neighboring unit caught fire, leaving one dead, displacing a family and causing up to $40,000 in damage.

Residents reported smoke coming from the second floor of an apartment building on 1617 4th Street Northwest shortly before 4 a.m. When firefighters got to the scene, they entered the burning apartment through the balcony and the hallway to search for occupants, a press release from the Rochester Fire Department said.

Firefighters found one person dead at the scene. It was not clear if this person was in the apartment that caught fire. The cause of death will be released by the coroner’s office; and the deceased’s name will be released after the family is notified, the department said.

Crews also rescued a family of four that was trapped on a balcony — one shared with the apartment that was on fire. Firefighters used ladders to rescue them on a night of subzero temperatures. Due to the frigid cold, firefighters also needed to rotate crews and equipment.

While the 54 unit building was evacuated, a nearby hotel opened its rooms to families to help them keep warm.

After crews knocked down the flames, all but one family was allowed to return to the building just before 6 a.m. The Red Cross is now assisting the displaced family with temporary housing after their apartment was deemed not suitable for living, the department said.

The fire damage was restricted to the unit that caught fire. Other parts of the building’s second floor, however, sustained smoke damage.

The damage estimate was originally set at $20,000, but it was upped to $40,000 Tuesday afternoon.

No word was given as to how the fire started.

The Rochester Fire Department, the Fire Marshal and the Rochester Police Department are investigating.


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