A fire near 35th St. and Harriet Ave. in south Minneapolis left one person dead.

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

1 dead, 1 hurt in Minneapolis house fire

  • Star Tribune staff writers
  • March 22, 2012 - 10:02 AM

A house fire Wednesday morning in south Minneapolis left one man dead and a woman severely injured, according to authorities.

The blaze broke out about 6 a.m. in a three-story house at 3500 Harriet Av. S. and was quickly knocked down, fire officials said.

Arson investigators examined the front porch for hours after the fire was extinguished; the cause remains under investigation.

Fire crews used a ladder to bring two people down from the home's second story, Assistant Fire Chief Cherie Penn said. One other person who lives in the three-story house was not home at the time, Penn said.

When firefighters arrived, they found the front porch engulfed in flames, and the fire was stretching all the way to the third floor, Penn said.

Firefighters found a man's body on the second floor. A woman was found on the third floor. Sadie Norlin, 27, was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where she was listed in critical condition. A cat also died in the fire, according to the fire department.

Authorities have not yet released the identity of the man who died, but news about his death quickly spread among his friends through social media.

"He was an amazing young man," said Ted Dewberry, who worked with him for three months on a play Dewberry wrote for the Minnesota Fringe Festival. "He always had such positive energy. ... He had such great work ethic and spirit."

"It's so hard for me to think that he's gone," Dewberry said. "He was so selfless. He was an amazing person."

Friends said the man as an activist involved with union organizing and political causes. "Politically he was an anarchist and a member of [Industrial Workers of the World]," said Erik Forman. "He was a very, very principled person."

A neighbor, Katy Rudolph, 33, said she woke up early Wednesday to the noise of firetrucks and what sounded like gunshots, which turned out to be window glass breaking at the burning house.

While she didn't really know the occupants, Rudolph said, she had fond memories of the house. People were always sitting out on the porch laughing, and sometimes on the weekends she would enjoy hearing live music from what sounded like a jam session coming from the house, she said.

"The liveliness and vibrancy coming from this house was contagious. ... It's going to be very sad not having this house."

Neighbor Jill Krieger, however, said she had been worried about the property before the fire.

"Obviously, whoever rents it out rents it to young kids and it's not the kids' fault, but the owner never keeps the sidewalk [clear]. I've called 311 about it," she said.

The property was cited last fall as a nuisance property for tires, scrap wood, plastic containers, paper, bottles and random debris piled on its south and west yards.

The listed landlord for the property, Neil Esterkin, did not return a call left at his office.

No one from the house was immediately available for comment. A group of people standing in the back yard Wednesday morning declined to talk to a reporter. • 612-673-4482 • 612-673-7329 • 612-673-4495

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