MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A report from the state fire marshal says fire sprinklers could have saved the lives of five people who died in a Minneapolis high-rise fire last year.
On Tuesday, State Fire Marshal Jim Smith released a report on key findings in the investigation into the Nov. 27 fire, which killed five and injured another three at a high-rise apartment in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
“This tragic loss of life could have been prevented. The victims would still be alive had there been sprinklers throughout that entire building,” Smith said. “We owe it to the victims and their families to learn from this fire so we can prevent similar tragedies.”
According to Smith, there were some safety features present in the building, but it lacked redundant features to protect the residence once a single safety element failed.
In the report, multiple recommendations were made for all high-rise buildings in Minnesota. In addition to having fire sprinkler systems throughout, it’s recommended that residential building owners discontinue propping fire doors open or placing objects in the path of the door that prevent it from closing in a fire.
Another recommendation encourages fire separations for existing “scissor stairs” to form independent stair enclosures — providing at least two distinct paths of escape.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office said all five victims died from smoke inhalation. They were identified as 78-year-old Amatalah Adam, 69-year-old Maryan Mohamed Mohamud, 67-year-old Nadifa Mohamud, 59-year-old Jerome Stuart and 32-year-old Tyler Baron.
The fire was classified as accidental. Fire officials said contributing factors on the fire may have been a short circuit arc, along with the use of smoking materials.