Fire in a Rochester apartment early Tuesday killed the unit's lone resident and forced dozens of others at the complex from their homes into the frigid weather, authorities said.

The blaze broke out shortly before 4 a.m. at the Mile Manor Apartments and was contained to a second-floor unit, said Deputy Fire Chief Steven Belau. The identity of the victim, a woman, has not been released.

Belau said it's too early to say what led to the fire at the complex, which sits just southeast of Hwys. 14 and 52.

Three people in a neighboring unit were rescued, two down a ladder with the aid of firefighters. The third, a child, made it down from the balcony without assistance, Belau said.

The residents who were forced from their apartments either took shelter at the nearby Courtesy Inn Motel or waited it out in their vehicles until the building was clear of smoke and carbon monoxide, the deputy fire chief added.

Belau estimated damage at $20,000.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482