Two confirmed deceased and two injured from Hillside fire
At 5:59 am on Saturday, April 22, Duluth Fire Department was dispatched to a structure fire. Two occupants have been confirmed deceased, and two firefighters were injured.
The fire was located at 631 E Third Street, a two-story, eight-unit apartment building in the Hillside neighborhood of Duluth.
Arriving in just over two minutes after the fire was reported, firefighters found heavy smoke and a fire burning. Firefighters rescued multiple occupants from the building, both from the interior and from ladders outside the building. Other occupants exited the building on their own.
During rescue efforts, an occupant on the second floor was removed from the building through a window and given life-saving measures. The victim was transported to the hospital but was later pronounced deceased.
During a second rescue effort in the same apartment unit, multiple firefighters were forced to exit out of a window to escape the room as it flashed over. The occupant they were attempting to rescue when this occurred was later found deceased.
Two firefighters sustained burns during the rescue effort, and their protective clothing was significantly damaged. The injured firefighters were transported to urgent care for assessment and treatment and have since been released.
The victims’ names are being withheld at this time. The fire is under investigation by the Duluth Fire Marshal’s Office with assistance from the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
The building also had several house cats in the apartment units. Firefighters were able to rescue some of the cats, but others died.
The building sustained significant damage, and much of the roof collapsed. Damage to the structure is still being assessed. Future demolition of the building may be needed.
Red Cross and the Duluth Police Department’s D shift helped assist displaced occupants.
DFD Deputy Chief of Operations Mike Consie said of the effort, “This is a tragic and
unfortunate event, and Duluth Fire Department wants to extend its condolences to the
families who are displaced and to the family of those who were injured and lost their
lives. We also want to thank DFD firefighters and their families for their ongoing sacrifice
to the safety of Duluth residents.”
DFD Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj, who was at a training conference Saturday, provided the
following comments about the incident: “I would like to thank DFD staff for keeping me
updated on today’s tragic fire in Duluth this morning. My condolences go out to the
families of people who were injured or lost their home, or lost their lives in this
catastrophic event. I am extremely proud of the efforts of our firefighters and all of our
partner agencies. I know that we have two firefighters who sustained injuries while
making rescue attempts. They were treated and released earlier today. I would like to
express my thanks to them and their families for going above and beyond, sacrificing
their own safety for service to our community.”
The apartment units were up to date on licensing and were up to code with an upcoming inspection in October.
Authorities mentioned that this is the third time a fire fatality has happened in this building. Once in August of 2020 and again in April 2021. In-between those dates the building would be condemned, inspected, and then would pass inspections to welcome in more tenants.