By Bill Hudson

Alexandria, Minn. (WCCO) — Fire broke out before daybreak and quickly spread between several historic buildings in the oldest part of downtown.

“It’s heartbreaking,” says longtime resident, Amanda Seim.

She’s speaking for many residents who witnessed the early morning fire as it chewed through Alexandria’s historic downtown.

Taking with the smoke and flames, RM Tattoo Parlor, Raapers Restaurant, the gift store Charlie’s Bazaar and Little Darlings clothing store.

“This is on the oldest block downtown so these buildings date to the 1880’s, it’s definitely heartbreaking,” Seim added.

More than 100 firefighters from five different departments fought the flames. In the end they might have lost the battle but they won the most important war.

All residents living in the 13 upstairs apartments got out safely.

“I’m not happy with a loss but I am happy with how much we saved in the downtown,” Alexandria Fire Chief Jeff Karrow said.

By mid-day Tuesday fire crews were still dowsing hotspots from aerial ladder trucks. Able to zero in on the stubborn spots thanks to an infrared equipped drone.

“We can get up there and see where the hotspots are and direct our streams. Because the buildings are not safe to be putting firefighters in at this time,” Karrow said.

Before investigators can begin the search for a cause they have to get the fire out.

“I’m waiting to hear from my friend that lives up in one of these apartments,” Kim Vangsness said.

She was among the many people watching the action. Fortunately, all residents are accounted for and the Red Cross is putting them up in temporary shelter.

“My heart goes out to all of them who lost everything they owned. It’s terrible and tragic,” Vangsness said.

The State Fire Marshall’s office will be assisting local investigators in the search for a cause and origin to the fire.

Bill Hudson

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