MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Fire departments in Minneapolis and St. Paul have been stretched thin over the past couple days, as they work to put out flames in both cities.
Within the span of a few hundred yards Friday morning, St. Paul fire crews could be seen working on a series of fires. They battled flames at the Sports Dome on University Avenue, and across the street, they kept an eye on Big Top Liquors. At a nearby strip mall, they put water on a fire at a Foot Locker that had been scorched.
In Minneapolis, fires continued all along Lake Street through the morning, and into Friday afternoon.
The biggest was at another Foot Locker, this time the one near Chicago and Lake.
“It’s just getting worse and worse and they are burning our community to the ground,” Tim Koehler said.
For hours crews hosed down the fire as flames occasionally shot up, and clouds of smoke billowed down Lake Street.
A couple blocks away at the Family Dollar store, it was more of the same. Another fire left behind by looters.
“My choice of protest would be peaceful of course. I would encourage people to stop with the violence,” Matt McNamara said.
“Honestly, I’m really shocked. Disbelief. I can’t believe this,” Montay Taylor said.
Taylor lives and works in the neighborhood. He’s thinking about George Floyd, but also about the business and property owners who have been impacted.
“For the people damaging and doing it for the wrong reasons — you all are using that man’s name in vain. You all are not doing it the right way. You all who came to protest are supposed to do it peacefully,” Taylor said.
The Minneapolis Fire Department responded to at least 19 structure fires Thursday night, including the MPD 3rd Precinct building. According to a statement, they had to respond to several scenes multiple times as fires were reset or rekindled. No firefighters, they said, were injured.
In St. Paul, the fire department reported 55 fires from Thursday through Friday morning at 8 a.m. In total, they received 295 calls, of which 169 were EMS calls and 126 were fire calls.
According to the St. Paul fire department, they were able to call an additional 85 firefighters, bringing their total to nearly 200. Two of them were injured while performing their duties.