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5 dead in Minneapolis house fire

3:24 PM, Feb 14, 2014   |    comments
Fire breaks through the roof at a duplex in the 2800 block of Colfax Avenue N. in north Minneapolis
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MINNEAPOLIS - Five people, including at least three children, are confirmed dead Friday following a three-alarm fire, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office.

Fire crews arrived just before 5 p.m. CT at a duplex on the north side of the city to find heavy smoke billowing from the second and third floors. Chief John Fruetel said the situation quickly escalated, and his firefighters entered the building under what he termed "precarious" conditions.

The bodies of three children were recovered, and five people were transported to Hennepin County Medical Center and North Memorial Medical Center. Two later died, but the conditions of the others are unknown at this time.

The medical examiner's office did not release information about the two other victims.One firefighter was injured while battling the blaze; more than 40 were on the scene and needed 2½ hours to tame the flames.

Taleaha Cox, who lived in the downstairs portion of the duplex, said her younger brother woke her up, saying the man upstairs was screaming and the home smelled of smoke. That man and seven children lived in the upstairs duplex.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The man's partner, the mother of the children, died in the past few months, Cox said.

"It's kinda like, depressing almost, to see that, the kids, " she said. "I hear them all day up there playing around, and to already know what their family is going through, losing a parent already months prior to this, it's like sad. Now he has to bury his kids."

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges echoed those sentiments.

"This is a tragic moment for the city of Minneapolis, this is a tragic moment for North Minneapolis, this is a tragic moment for this neighborhood, and this block, and these families," Hodges said.

Fifteen people lived in the duplex: The Red Cross is assisting seven of them.

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