UPDATE 5:45 P.M.: Minot Fire Chief Kelli Kronschnabel said the Minot Fire Department has verified that all of the building’s occupants are safe. The building, built in 1916, contains 28 units; 26 units were occupied. Six firefighters received treatment for minor injuries.
“I’m very thankful all the tenants were able to evacuate safely,” Kronschnabel said. “We will continue to communicate with them as we determine if it’s safe to allow them to go back into the building to retrieve any belongings.”
Kronschnabel said the fire was under control by approximately 8 a.m., although some hot spots remained as of late Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters and law enforcement will remain on scene throughout the night.
ORIGINAL: Emergency crews are still trying to make sure everyone is accounted for after a fire destroyed an apartment building in downtown Minot Wednesday morning.
Fire officials said Halls Apartments building is a total loss, leaving the residents of 26 apartments displaced.
The fire broke out around midnight and it only took four minutes after responding to the call for crews to get water through hoses. About 30 firefighters arrived to find flames on all levels of the building.
It’s still smoldering and firefighters are still on site. Streets surrounding the apartment are closed off, and for good reason — all that water made things really slick around here.
Now because of the scope of this fire, crews still haven’t had the chance to get all the way inside to check for victims. Derek Hackett, public information officer for Minot, said they’re still waiting to hear about the condition of the building.
“We don’t know the integrity of the structure. We’re getting a structural engineer on site to see if we can go in there. Once we’re on-site we’ll investigate. We’ll also reach out to the tenants and escort them in to get their personal belongings and see the damage of their property. But none of that can happen until we find out what the integrity of the structure is,” said Hackett.
Officials still don’t know what caused the fire, but what we do know is that dozens of people are in a completely different spot than they were 24 hours ago. Local organizations are stepping up to offer whatever help they can for the victims of this fire.
“To see such devastation across the street is really heartbreaking,” said Meghan von Behren, executive director of YWCA.
Organizations like the YWCA are offering assistance. The YWCA has a community closet with men’s, women’s and children’s clothing. It also has personal care items, and the staff said they’ll help provide housing resources.
“We’re here for the community. The community’s been there for us in time of crisis, and now it’s our turn to repay that favor and help them in any way we can,” said von Behren.
The Men’s Winter Refuge has men’s clothing, blankets and personal care items available as well. A spokesperson from the Minot Area Homeless Coalition said it’s working to provide assistance to these victims too. The American Red Cross is also working to give people places to stay and providing financial assistance.
Volunteer Ben Reid with the American Red Cross said it’s important to help any way they can.
“Trying to make it easier for them going forward. Obviously, it’s kind of rough for them right now. Fires aren’t easy for people,” said Reid. This is the third fire Reid has responded to as a volunteer. He said it’s important work.
“Knowing that everything that I can do to maybe make it easier on them. Maybe just being there for them, comforting them, letting them know that there is somebody there. There is help,” said Reid.
The company that manages Halls Apartments, IMM, said it’s working to find housing at other apartment complexes for the people who lost their homes.
We’ll keep following this story and bring you updates as we learn more.