Small town rallying after another major fire

Small town rallying after fire

MELROSE, Minn. – Just six months removed from the fire that temporarily closed the doors on the Church of St. Mary in Melrose, the town is dealing with another major fire.

“It was overwhelming when we saw it for the first time Friday,” said Lisa Illies.

For more than 10 years, Illies has owned one of the at least five buildings that burned and rents it out as a coffee shop. 

Just after midnight on Thursday, a fire broke out on the block of Main street and 5th in downtown Melrose. Investigators are still trying to determine a cause but some of the buildings are a total loss.

“A couple had to be taken down in ladders because of the apartments upstairs. I think there about 12 families that are displaced,” Illies said. The Red Cross is working with those people affected.

Some of the buildings that burned have been in town since the 1880’s.

“This is an icon,” said Roger Paschke who runs the Melrose Area Historical Society. “It’s a great thing that block. Now it’s gone. We don’t know what it’s going to be like in the future.”

In May, investigators determined the church fire was arson. They have not determined the cause of the downtown fire but initially believe the two fires are not related.


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