MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Arson is likely to blame for a fire overnight Sunday in North Minneapolis. The flames damaged three businesses near 44th and Penn Avenues.

The Minneapolis Fire Department credits the work of community patrols for helping to keep the damage contained.

“They were actually the ones that had said they had seen a vehicle drive around the back of the building appear to show something up onto the roof and then they saw smoke coming from the roof,” said Deputy Chief Kathleen Mullen.

“Like it’s been reported, I feel like it’s a lot of outsiders coming in,” said Dan Prentice.

Dan Prentice is co-owner of Tori 44, a restaurant that sits directly across the street from the businesses that were burned. He says his regular customers and members of the Victory neighborhood were out patrolling and protecting their community.

“We all have to watch out for each other now, hopefully some positive change will come out of this and we’re fighting to protect each other and also hope and pray some justice too,” Prentice said.

Prentice is a part of several northside neighborhood groups and community members who have formed coalitions working together to protect properties from outsiders who want to destroy and instill fear.

“We got members from the community watching our church and we are watching their houses,” said Bishop Divar Kemp.

Bishop Divar Kemp is pastor of New Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church.

“We’ve seen them shoot we’re hearing them shoot,” Kemp said

Kemp and others out on patrol say they hear gunshots and see unfamiliar people riding through the community causing harm.

“One of the times we heard the shots we were outside talking and Chief Arradondo and we had to get inside, Chief Arradondo has been doing a tremendous job making sure we are protected,” said Leslie Redmond.

This community says it is committed to protecting itself at night and providing resources for those in need during the day.

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