Updated: 01/02/2014 4:16 PM
Created: 01/01/2014 10:13 AM WDIO.com
UPDATE: The Minneapolis Fire Department says a body has been found in the debris of an apartment building destroyed by fire.
The body was found and turned over to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office on Thursday afternoon.
RELATED STORY: Body Found After Minneapolis Fire
Fourteen people have been hospitalized and at least four remain unaccounted for after a building explosion and fire in Minneapolis on New Years Day.
Fire crews responded to a report of an explosion around 8 a.m. Wednesday on the 500 block of Cedar Avenue and remained on the scene late Wednesday night.
Somali leaders confirmed the four people missing were not with family or at the hospital.
Hennepin County Medical Center said they had three patients in critical condition and six in satisfactory condition Wednesday night. A few of the other victims went to the University of Minnesota Medical Center-Fairview. Robert Ball of Hennepin County Emergency Medical Services says the victims suffered from injuries ranging from burns to trauma associated with falling or jumping from windows.
A witness at the scene tells our sister station KSTP that he heard an explosion and then saw the fire shortly after. Multiple victims were already outside when crews arrived, and flames were shooting about 20 feet out of the windows on the second and third floor, according to officials at the scene.
The first firefighters who arrived on the scene said it looked like a "war zone."
Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel originally confirmed 13 people have been hospitalized, six with critical injuries. That number is now at 14. He said it was very difficult to fight the blaze because the bitter cold has turned the area into an ice rink.
A woman who owns a nearby convenience store tells KSTP the building is a community center that contains apartments, a grocery store and mosque. The first floor is a commercial use area and the second and third floors are apartments.
Abdikadir Mohamed, whose uncle owns the grocery store, watched the scene in silence, struggling to put his thoughts into words. "This is bad," he said.
Fruetel says there are about 10 apartment units in the building, at least nine of which were occupied at the time. At this point it’s unclear if there are any victims still inside the building, Fruetel said.
The Brian Coyle Center was open for family and victims of the fire to reunite. The Red Cross and Salvation Army are assisting victims.
The last inspection of the building was in 2012, and fire officials say there were no outstanding inspection issues for the building.
Officials said it wasn't immediately clear what caused the fire. CenterPoint Energy spokeswoman Becca Virden said there were no natural gas leaks in the area.
“My heart goes out to the victims and families,” newly-elected Ward 6 Council Member Abdi Warsame said during the press conference. “It’s a tragic event.”
Gov. Mark Dayton also made a statement regarding the fire:
"On behalf of all Minnesotans, I extend my deepest sympathies to the victims of today's awful fire in Minneapolis and to their families and friends," he said. "We hope for your swift and complete recoveries. I also want to thank the State Troopers, Minneapolis Police Officers, firefighters, and other first responders who endangered themselves to save the lives of those engulfed by this terrible tragedy."
“We don’t know the reason or extent of the fire, but we know there are families and loved ones who need our prayers because this is obviously a very difficult and tragic event,” Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said during a press conference.
“Firefighters and crews on the scene in this horrible cold deserve a great deal of gratitude for keeping this from being even worse.”
Duluth Adds 2,200 Students: Move-In Day for UMD
The population in Duluth went up a couple of thousand on Thursday, as the freshman class at UMD moved into the dorms.
Incoming UWS Freshmen Carry the Comforts of Home
Incoming freshmen moved into their dorms at the University of Wisconsin Superior on Thursday. The new college students were carrying all of their belongings, including a lot of technology that hasn't always been so common on a college campus.
Getting Kids Ready to Go Back to School
Like it or not, the new school year is just around the corner. After three months of late nights, sleeping in, snacking, and tons of fun, transitioning back to the school year can be tough. Eyewitness News learned a few tips that can ease the change.
St. Paul Think Tank Releases Report on Minnesota School Spending
Minnesota 2020, a progressive St. Paul-based think tank, released a new report on Thursday. They gathered financial data from Minnesota schools from the previous 10 years, looking at spending in schools. They held a press conference on Thursday calling for a shift in focus from testing to "enriching courses."
Duluth-Superior Pride Weekend Kicks Off
The events will run from Thursday until Sunday with a fan favorite, Pride Festival in the Park, taking place on Saturday at Bayfront Festival Park. Many of these events and activities are free of charge and family friendly.