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.”
Four Residents Escape Lincoln Park Apartment Engulfed in Flames
A home in the Lincoln Park neighborhood was enveloped by flames early Wednesday morning. All four people were able to leave the apartment complex safely. Our crew arrived around 5:00 a.m. at the 2700 block of West 4th Street in Duluth.
Superior Murder Trial Delayed after New Evidence Released
Juan Leonardo Padilla, 40, of Fort Mohave, Ariz., is charged with the shooting death of 46-year-old Terrance Rodney Luukkonen of Duluth last May. Luukkonen was shot outside his workplace at Genesis Attachments in Superior.
Homemade Audio Unveiled During Day 2 of Byron Smith Murder Trial
It was a homemade recording inside Byron Smith's home. The hand held device was next to Smith's chair during the shootings. Smith didn't turn it over to police, or even tell them about it. Investigators found the evidence while searching Smith's home the day after the shootings. Although it was 6 hours long, 14 minutes of the audio clip were played in court Tuesday.
Construction to Begin on Last Major St. Louis County Road Damaged by 2012 Floods
While the devastating floods of 2012 may be a distant memory for some, there are still some visible scars left - including on one western Duluth road. 57th Avenue West and Highland Street is the last major St. Louis County road still damaged by the flooding.
Duluth School Board Approves Plan to Help Sell Central High
One of Duluth's most scenic vantage points - the Central High School property, has been up for sale for most of four years, but still sits empty. On Tuesday night, school and city leaders took a step to do something about that: a formal working arrangement has been made.