Two firefighters injured in Minneapolis fire; businesses displaced

Firefighters gather at a fire scene
Minneapolis firefighters battle a fire that heavily damaged two buildings along Sixth Street South in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood on Wednesday.
Estelle Timar-Wilcox | MPR News

A fire in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis heavily damaged two buildings early Wednesday. One building housed at least a half-dozen small businesses; the other was a residential home with an in-house day care. 

Two firefighters were injured in an explosion caused by smoke and gas buildup. They sustained minor injuries and were transported to a hospital. Authorities did not report any other injuries. 

The Minneapolis Fire Department responded to the 1800 block of Sixth Street South just before 5:30 a.m. The fire reportedly started in a large debris pile outside before spreading to the first building, where it burned through every floor and the roof. Crews noticed smoke from the second house and called in more responders shortly after.  

The fire department said the fire left both building are uninhabitable.  

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Ayub Genemo owns a small business that does taxes and immigration forms, with his office in one of the buildings that burned. He watched from across the street with the other business owners while fire crews worked. 

“I feel sorry,” Genemo said. “My clients are waiting for me to start, we’re supposed to start taxes this week. But for today or this week, maybe there’s not any operating business for me.” 

Firefighters gather at a fire scene
Minneapolis firefighters battle a fire that heavily damaged two buildings along Sixth Street South on Wednesday.
Estelle Timar-Wilcox | MPR News

Genemo had several computers and years’ worth of tax and immigration records in the office. 

He’s owned the business for 17 years, and he said he knows his clients and the community well at this point. Several of his clients had already called him this morning to say they were sorry about the fire.  

“This area is a very nice area for this kind of service,” Genemo said. “This community is a welcoming community, and I’ve been around for quite a bit.”  

The West Bank Business Association set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the businesses that were displaced. The business association described them as very small, East African-owned micro-businesses. They included a shop selling Oromo cultural goods, a therapist’s office, and a spa.  

One of the buildings has been a landmark in the area for a long time; it previously housed a popular local music school, the West Bank School of Music.   

The fire department says it’s investigating the cause of the fire.