Authorities say a charcoal grill left burning unattended on a second-floor balcony sparked a fire that heavily damaged a south Minneapolis apartment building early Wednesday and forced residents to flee.
Resident Kevin Gotch awoke to screams around 3:45 a.m. and at first thought it was neighbors arguing. Then he noticed an orange glow outside his first floor unit and realized why people upstairs were screaming.
Gotch and several residents were forced out of the building on the 2400 block of 1st Avenue S. Nobody was seriously hurt in the fire, which was brought under control in about 75 minutes, said Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner.
It is believed that fire alarms did sound, which helped everybody get out, Tyner said.
Paramedics treated some residents on the scene for smoke inhalation while others were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, Tyner said.
No firefighters were hurt.
Gotch moved into the building three days ago. When he saw what was happening, he ran upstairs without his shoes and saw all the flames and smoke. A second-floor resident handed him a fire extinguisher, which he said he used to try to put out some of the flames.
"I sprayed about three bursts, then in about 10 seconds I high-tailed it out of there," he said.
Gotch, 24, said he lost most of his possessions, mostly due to water damage. He did not have renter's insurance and was unsure where he was going to stay in the long term. On Wednesday morning, he was at a friend's house.
The Red Cross is assisting at least 10 residents who have been displaced.