New accounts from survivors of New Year's Day fire emerge

  • Article by: ALLIE SHAH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 3, 2014 - 4:27 PM

Two survivors recall jumping to safety during the New Year’s Day fire in Minneapolis.

New eyewitness accounts of the New Year’s Day fire in Minneapolis emerged Friday.

From their hospital beds at Hennepin County Medical Center, two men described their harrowing escape from the fire in the Cedar-Riverside area. At least 14 people were injured, six of them critically.

The men, Hersi Hassan, 29, and Abdi Qobey, 59, are recovering from broken bones and other injuries sustained when they jumped to safety from the building’s second story.

Hassan awoke on New Year’s Day in his apartment to discover the building was on fire. “I see a lot of fire,” he said, and then he told his sister, who also lived there: “Wake up! Wake up!”

He broke a window and jumped from his second-floor apartment.

“I’m still shocked from this,” he said. He broke his leg in two places in the fall and suffered minor frostbite after waiting outside for 45 minutes before receiving help, he said.

So far, two bodies have been recovered from the rubble. Family members identified the two people not accounted for as Mrimri Farah, said to be about 60 years old, and Ahmad Ali, 57, who shared an apartment.

Qobey said he saw Ali in the building the night before the fire. He did not see Farah.

An investigation into the fire’s origins has begun. Investigators and CenterPoint Energy officials are debating whether natural gas was a potential cause of the explosion that sparked the fire. Neither Hassan nor Qobey smelled gas that morning, nor did they hear any fire alarms. After two inspections in 2010, the building’s owner was ordered to fix several safety problems. Those issues had been fixed, according to records released Thursday by the city of Minneapolis.

HCMC spokewsoman Christine Hill provided updated status reports on the victims being treated at the hospital. Three people are in critical condition and five remain in satisfactory condition.

 

Allie Shah • 612-673-4488

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