Nine Injured in Early Morning Apartment Fire

Updated: 03/02/2013 5:31 PM By: Katherine Johnson

Firefighters were called to a fire in North Minneapolis around 5:45 a.m., Saturday.  When they arrived, they saw tenants hanging out the windows and even climbing onto the roof to get away from the smoke.

"I'm traumatized," said tenant Marquis Johnson.  "I just woke up out of my sleep and it was just all smoke."

Johnson says he, his mother and his sister jumped from their second story window to get away from the smoke.

"My mom's at the hospital, too," he said.  "She hurt her arm when she jumped out."

Johnson's mother and sister are two of the nine people taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and injuries from the jump.  Firefighters believe the fire started and was contained to the basement but the smoke spread quickly and they only found one smoke detector in the entire eight-unit building.

"We started getting reports of people hanging out windows and trying to jump from the second floor," said Battalion Chief Anthony Kuczek.

Without enough smoke detectors to warn anybody, the smoke spread while tenants slept.  Firefighters say by the time they woke up it was too late to escape through the doors.

"The whole interior was fully charged with smoke so there's nowhere to go but out the window," said Kuczek.

The Red Cross estimates they're helping 20 people displaced from the fire. Crews rescued everyone and put the fire out all within 15 minutes but Johnson says everything he owns is destroyed.

The Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.  The owner of the building wouldn't address the lack of smoke detectors but he did say the boiler was new and he had working fire extinguishers in every unit.

Minnesota state fire code requires a smoke detector must be provided in any room where someone sleeps.