Melrose Community Pulls Together After Devastating Downtown Fire
Friday, September 9, 2016
WCCO | CBS Minnesota (September 9, 2016) - A small town in central Minnesota is cleaning up after a fire destroyed much of its Main Street.
Fire officials said the fire appeared to have started inside an apartment building along Main Street around noon Thursday in Melrose.
Melrose fire chief Jeremy Kraemer said 90 firefighters from surrounding communities responded to the fire and worked for almost 12 hours to put it out. No one was hurt, but several people were rescued from their apartment windows that sat on top of several businesses.
In total, six businesses and eight homes were impacted by the fire. Fire officials were on the scene working to determine the cause of the fire on Friday afternoon and said they do not suspect foul play.
“Smoke was heavy in the building and we had a number of occupants trapped in the building for a little bit,” Kraemer said.
Business owner Lisa Illias’ coffee shop was impacted by the fire. It’s unclear if the 100-year-old building, which Illias owns, can be salvaged.
“It added a lot of history to the Melrose area so it would be a sad loss,” Illias said,
In the meantime, local businesses may struggle.
“Every small town has a Main Street where they are struggling to keep store fronts open so we hope they can rebuild very soon,” Kraemer said.
As the business owners worked to assess the cost of the damage, others in the community offered piles of clothing, toiletries, games, strollers, and other necessities to those who lost their homes because of the fire. The Red Cross is working to find at least eight families temporary homes. Local business Martinez Grocery store offered up space to house donations.
Volunteer Sophia Sabinash said the entire room full of donated items came in within a couple of hours of the fire.
“It is very heartwarming and overwhelming,” Sabinash said with tears in her eyes. “We take care of each other.”
Six months ago there was a church fire in Melrose that was ruled and arson. There have been no arrests in that case.
Authorities do not suspect any foul play in the Main Street fire.
A local group has set up a fund to help victims of the fire through the Central Minnesota Credit Union and Red Cross.