MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One week after a deadly high-rise fire, residents say fear — and the smell of smoke — still linger.
Fire tore through an apartment on the 14th floor of the Cedar High Apartments near downtown Minneapolis last week. Five people died. The fire chief called it an accident.
The exterior has been repaired here. The residents who lived on floors other than 14th are back in their homes, but there is residual damage in several different ways.
Kamaal Mohamed’s aunt Nadifo, who he says was motherly and kind, was on the 14th floor. He says the room beside her is where the fire started.
“She has been witnessed a lot of tragedy that happened back home in Somalia, and this is supposed to be a place where people come to get a peaceful life,” Mohamed said. “I guess there is no place in the world that can guarantee a peaceful life.”
And the restlessness is still apparent. The survivors of the fire are back in their apartments, but far from settled. Julekay Olson lives on the 19th floor. She said the smell of the smoke is a reminder of who was lost.
“We are able to tolerate it. We’re able to stand in the hallway, wait for the elevator without having to cover our mouths, cover our noses,” Olson said.
But there is some hope that’s risen from the ashes. Donations have been pouring in, approaching $79,000 as of early Wednesday evening. The goal is $100,000.
People’s Center Clinics & Services, a neighboring nonprofit, helped launch the effort. Paula Guinn works with the group.
“It’s been overwhelming. I think that none of us expected this kind of response. And to still see people continuing to give, it’s been tremendous,” Guinn said. “And I think the ability to be able to connect people with this real need who are really in crisis, we just really have been privileged to be able to do that.”
And now the neighbors will march forward, as a community full of people who’ve endured so much flex their resilience once again.
One of the things people in this neighborhood’s Somali-American community keep mentioning is how the fire brings back so many bad memories of the New Year’s Day fire of 2014, which happened in a building that’s a three-minute walk from the Cedar High Apartments. They say the survivors in that fire are still struggling, so recovery for this fire will likely be another long road.
Investigators haven’t pinpointed what sparked the fire, but they say an electrical problem or smoking materials may have contributed to it.