14 hospitalized after building explosion in Mpls.

MINNEAPOLIS - Authorities say at least 14 people are hospitalized following a building explosion and fire in Minneapolis Wednesday morning.

Crews were dispatched to 516 Cedar Avenue South at 8:16 a.m. Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel says that victims were already outside the building and fire was pouring from the second and third floors when crews arrived.

Fruetel says firefighters entered the first floor but were quickly forced to retreat when conditions became unsafe.

Robert Ball of Hennepin County EMS tells KARE 11 that 14 people have been injured and rushed to a number of local hospitals. He describes the injuries as ranging from burns to trauma suffered while falling or jumping from windows. Six of those victims are listed as critical.

Hennepin County Medical Center confirms it received 10 patients, 3 of whom are listed as critical.

Authorities say it is unclear if anyone was trapped inside the building. Crews will search the rubble once the situation is under control. Information gathered from residents will also be used to determine if anyone perished in the blaze. Those impacted are being urged to utilize a family assistance center that is being set up at the Brian Coyle Community Center, 420 15th Avenue South.

"This is a tragic morning for the City of Minneapolis," Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges told authorities.

A check of Hennepin County's website indicates that the main floor of the structure houses a business called the Otanga Grocery, with the upper two floors consisting of apartments.

Firefighters swarmed the scene after the call was elevated to three alarms. The second and third floors of the structure collapsed soon afterwards. Chief Fruetel says frigid weather conditions are making things both challenging and dangerous for crews trying to put down the blaze. While some firefighters are being allowed to leave the scene, the chief expects that crews will be there for the remainder of the day.


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