Firefighters beat back House of Charity fire, no one hurt

Updated 12:15 p.m.

Fire crews spent more than an hour battling a blaze that burned through the roof of a House of Charity building in downtown Minneapolis Wednesday night.

The nonprofit's food center is near the Hennepin County Medical Center. Fire crews responded just before 11 p.m. The flames drove firefighters out of the building at one point, but the fire was brought under control shortly after midnight.

No one was hurt, but the building — which houses the only free public lunch program open every day in Minneapolis — was badly damaged.

Officials have not determined what caused the fire and continue to investigate.

House of Charity says it serves more than 300 people a day there and will continue to do so despite the fire. 

"We've been providing help in this way since 1953. And we do not expect this to stop us,” said Paul Verrette, director of community engagement at St. Stephen's Human Services/House of Charity.

The organization says its first priority is making sure the people who depend on it for food who have no homes, live in shelters or in permanent supportive housing are taken care of, Verrette said.

"We are working with some of our partners to meet the need immediately for meals for those residents on both shelter guests,” he said. “And then we've also already spoken with some of our partners for taking up the need for providing meals to the public."

Verrette said people who want to help should consider donating money to St. Stephen's Human Services/House of Charity.

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