MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been three years and one day, and it’s still not clear what happened. The 2014 New Years Day Fire lit up the Minneapolis skyline with flames and smoke.

It happened in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Three men lost their lives in the fire, others are still feeling the effects of life-long injuries.

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WCCO talked with one of the survivors and found there is new hope among the devastation.

“What happened here was a tragedy.” survivor Abdi Qobey said.

Qobey was one of the lucky ones — he lived to tell his story. After a hospital stay and major recovery, it’s been hard to get work.

“This is worse than war because the war is your choice,” he said. “You get the war, or you leave the war. You can’t do that here. You have no choice just be there in that situation.”

Abdikazar Bihi lives a building away from the site of the fire. He spent that day identifying victims and translating.

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“To see smoke and fire within the smoke and fire was an image that never really left us alone,” he said.

Bihi says one good thing that’s come amidst the ashes is that neighbors have made new safety plans.

“One thing about this neighborhood, something happens small or big, we learn from it,” he said.

One thing they haven’t learned the root cause of the explosive blaze.

“I want to know what happened,” Qobey said. “I didn’t get anything from today to three years ago.”

The Minneapolis Fire Department called the cause “undetermined”.

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On Sunday night, neighbors met and say an artist is considering buying the property and making it into a place of creativity and healing.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield