5 dead, 3 hospitalized after fire at Minneapolis high-rise

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A fire swept through a Minneapolis high-rise apartment building early Wednesday, killing five people and sending three others to the hospital with injuries, officials said.

There was no immediate indication what caused the blaze in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, located in a part of Minneapolis called Little Mogadishu for the many Somali immigrants who have settled there.

The fire broke out on the 14th floor of the building, Fire Chief John Fruetel said. Firefighters found heavy smoke on the 16th and 17th floors as residents were evacuated through the building’s stairwells.

One person who could not use the stairs to escape had to be helped out from the 13th-floor elevator, fire officials said. One resident on the 21st floor of the 24-floor building resisted being evacuated.

Fruetel said at a briefing that the fire had a “pretty good head start” by the time firefighters were called about 4 a.m. "It had been burning for a while," he said.

Firefighters experienced heavy fire and high heat on the 14th floor where the victims were found in various units.

“(It was) a very tragic night at the beginning of a holiday weekend,” Fruetel said.

The genders and ages of the victims and the conditions of the injured were not immediately known, the chief said. A firefighter was being examined for a minor injury, he said.

The fire was reported to be out as of 5:30 a.m.