MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A fire ripped through a second-floor apartment Friday afternoon above a popular coffee shop in Minneapolis’ Dinkytown neighborhood.

The Minneapolis Fire Department says it started in an apartment above Espresso Royale on 411 14th Street Southeast, near the University of Minnesota’s East Bank campus, sometime around 12:30 p.m.

“I was lying in my bed when I saw smoke come out,” said Phoebe Gulling, a University of Minnesota student. “I looked outside and saw fire coming out of the building.”

Gulling says that’s when she quickly grabbed her backpack and left the smoky building. At the same moment, Andrew Baldridge was parking his car and noticed the smoke through a second story window. He quickly entered Espresso Royale and notified the staff, who didn’t believe him at first.

“They had no clue,” Baldridge said. “I went in, everybody had their iPods on, drinking their coffee. I started yelling and everybody got out of the place as soon as they could. I just had to be the mean guy and got everybody out.”

Battalion Chief Steve Dziedzic says they received the first call about the fire around 12:40 p.m. Crews arrived three minutes later.

“We immediately cleared the building,” Dziedzic said. “By the time the first engine got here, we had fire venting through the window.”

Crews say two of the six units on the second floor sustained damage, and other portions of the building suffered smoke and water damage, including the coffee shop.

D.J. Helmbrecht lived in the apartment that caught fire.

“Just shock,” he said, recalling seeing the flames. “I was worried about my dog.”

Helmbrecht’s dog and three cats were trapped inside. But firefighters were able to get all of the animals out safely.

“My dog Foster was in a kennel so it would have been worse if the fire had spread, because he wouldn’t have been able to get out,” Helmbrecht said.

No firefighter or resident was injured. The Minneapolis Fire Marshall is investigating the cause of the blaze.

“Material stuff can be replaced,” Helmbrecht added. “The animals can’t.”


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