MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thursday marks 35 years since one of the most devastating fires in the history of Minneapolis.

On Thanksgiving Day 1982, a fire started in the Donaldson building and spread to Northwestern Bank.

It took 150 firefighters 12 hours to get things under control.

The next day downtown was coated in ice and smoke.

The fire destroyed an entire block of downtown Minneapolis and caused 90 million dollars in property damage.

Fire Chief John Freutel was just a rookie firefighter in Minneapolis at the time. He says what happened that night changed the way the department fights fires, forever.

“They were delivering probably a thousand gallons of water a minute, and it was hardly making a dent. It was incredible to see the volume of fire. And that was something I’ll never forget. To see all those floors of that building and how quickly it was spreading through that building,” he said.

The fire was started by two boys playing with flares in a vacant department store scheduled for demolition. Those boys were arrested and charged with arson.

The fire led to changes in building codes and security.

Back then, sprinkler systems were not required in high rise buildings.


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