By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hours after an intense fire at a Maple Grove business started, investigators say one person died inside.

Flames were spotted shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday at Hanson Implement and Storage on Bass Lake Road. By the time fire crews arrived, the building was burning fast and hot. Firefighters worked quickly, knowing there were people inside the burning building.

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“Original reports said three people were inside the building when police and fire arrived. Two had exited the building and told us that somebody was still inside,” said Maple Grove Fire Chief Tim Bush.

(credit: Maple Grove Fire Dept.)

Crews immediately went inside to get the one person who was unaccounted for.

“Sent fire crews in, stretched hose lines in, but because of the heat and conditions, we had to pull those crews out. They were not able to locate a person,” said Bush.

The building is a shop space for RV and boat storage and maintenance. It’s a pole barn-type of construction, with metal on the outside and wood on the inside. A small office space was on the south end of the building, above that space was a small living quarters.

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“Because of the nature of this building, it collapses down and forms layers so it’s kind of like peeling back the layers of an onion. It’s time-consuming, it’s methodical work to do the investigation,” Bush added.

The fast spread of the flames will make it hard for investigators to determine where and how the fire started.

“That fuel load burns really fast and really hot, so it completely destroys the building, but it will be challenging for investigators but they have the methods to take it a little bit at a time,” said Bush.

Crews worked on putting out hot spots all night and into the morning. When they were able to get closer to what remained of the structure, they found the missing person. Family of the person who died were on the scene. They had nothing to say, as they just wanted to be left alone to see the place where their loved one perished.

The medical examiner will release the name of the deceased and cause of death. This is the second fire fatality in Maple Grove this year.

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Reg Chapman