Community leaders have formed a committee to plan how to best help people affected by Wednesday’s fatal fire in a Minneapolis high-rise apartment building.
Meanwhile, a state legislator is calling for improved fire safety measures in older buildings.
Online fundraising efforts had gathered more than $65,000 to assist survivors as of Friday evening.
Abdisalan Mohamed lost his mother in the fire. “I just visualize how she was, I feel the sadness in losing her,” he said.
But he's heartened by the outpouring of support for people who are hurting.
“People don't have a place to live,” he said. “People have trauma at the moment. They know the people who died.”
Five people were killed in the fire early Wednesday on the 14th floor of a public housing tower in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis. Four people, including a firefighter, were injured.
Most of the 1970s-era building does not have sprinklers. State Rep. Mohamud Noor, DFL-Minneapolis, said it's time to mandate sprinklers in apartment buildings that were constructed before the fire-fighting devices were required.
“We need the retrofitting of sprinklers, especially in high-rise buildings, buildings that have high occupancy, to make sure that we protect lives,” Noor said after a community meeting Friday. “This is about protecting the lives of people, protecting property and making sure we prevent injuries.”
According to the city, the main floor and lower mechanical rooms of the 25-story building had partial sprinkler coverage, but the rest of the building lacked sprinklers. The Associated Press reported the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority has been considering retrofitting high-rise buildings with sprinklers as funding becomes available.
Abdirizak Bihi, a community outreach consultant for Emerge Community Development, said a committee formed Friday will work to meet survivors’ needs.
“As of now, we are concerned with the immediate needs of the victims, whether it’s financial, counseling, medical help, relocation, whether it's basic things like food and water,” he said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Fire Chief John Fruetel told reporters Wednesday that investigators believe it was an accident.