MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota | DMN – An explosion and fire in a Minneapolis building that contained apartments and a grocery store has left 14 people injured. Officials are trying to determine whether everyone was able to get out of the building, which was quickly engulfed in flames. The three-alarm fire began at 8:16 a.m., according to Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel. The chief said there was an explosion followed by fire. When crews arrived there were victims outside of the structure, Fruetel said, and there was heavy fire on second and third floors.
“Upon arrival, crews made entry into the first floor of this structure,” Fruetel said. “Conditions became untenable very quickly, with major fires coming out of the second and third floors. Crews had to back out and go into defensive position outside of the building, applying water.” Some people were injured from jumping out of windows, authorities told ABC News. The cause of the blaze isn’t yet known. More than 50 firefighters were on the scene. A total of 14 people were taken to hospitals, and six were in critical condition, according to a statement from Minneapolis Assistant Chief of Administration Cherie A. Penn.
Ten victims, including three in critical condition, were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, according to Penn, and three to the University of Minnesota. It was unknown where the other victim was transported. There were nine or 10 apartments on the second and third floors, the chief said. “Not everybody has been accounted for in this building,” Fruetel said. “It is possible that some are still inside.” The temperature in Minneapolis was listed at -1 Fahrenheit. Video from the scene showed flames shooting 20 feet from the building and victims outside in the frigid weather lying in the snow without coats or hats.
Abdi Warsame, a Minneapolis city councilman whose ward included the burned building, told reporters that there was a mosque behind the building that may have been damaged. “The grocery store and apartments above have been damaged. And I think there is some damage to the mosque,” Warsame said. “This whole area is very significant to the community.” The building was last inspected in 2012, according to Penn, and there were no outstanding inspection issues for the building. The nearby Brian Coyle Center was opened for family and victims of the fire to reunite.
HOUSTON, Texas | DMN — Former first lady Barbara Bush remains hospitalized with a respiratory-related issue, but her condition hasn’t changed, a spokesman for her husband’s office said Wednesday. Bush, 88, was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital on Monday, though it wasn’t announced until former President George H.W. Bush’s office released a statement Tuesday night. “She is in great spirits, has already received visits from her husband and family, and is receiving fantastic care,” the statement read, promising to provide updates as warranted.
Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the former president, said there was “nothing new to report” on Wednesday. Bush and her husband, the 41st president, live in Houston and still make public appearances. Last week, they honored a Houston businessman and philanthropist with a Points of Light Award, a volunteer service award started by the former president. The former first lady had a reputation for bluntness when her husband was president. Her son, George W. Bush, was the 43rd president.
The Bush family matriarch had heart surgery in March 2009 for a severe narrowing of the main heart valve. She also was hospitalized in November 2008, when she underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer. In 2010, she was admitted to the hospital after having a mild relapse of Graves disease, a thyroid condition for which she was treated in 1989. Health concerns had been more common of late with her 89-year-old husband, the nation’s oldest living former president. George H.W. Bush was released in January 2013 after he spent nearly two months at Houston Methodist Hospital, being treated for a bronchitis-related cough and other health issues.
President Barack Obama issued the following statement:
“Michelle and I send our best wishes to Mrs. Bush for a speedy recovery. Barbara is blessed to have both a loving, supporting family by her side and vibrant spirit that we hope will have her feeling better soon.
Former President Bill Clinton tweeted:
“I’ll be rooting for Barbara Bush’s full recovery while she’s rooting for Baylor today.”
PRAGUE, Czech Republic | DMN — The Palestinian ambassador in Prague has died after being fatally injured in an explosion that shook his official residence on Wednesday, Czech police said. Jamal al-Jamal died several hours after being taken to the hospital, authorities said. The blast occurred before midday in Internacionalni Street in the Suchdol neighbourhood, police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova. The Suchdol district houses many embassies and foreign diplomatic missions. The ambassador’s newly constructed residence has been set to become the Palestinian Embassy in the Czech Republic.
The ambassador was with his family in the house as the explosion occurred, embassy spokesman Nabil el-Fahel said. He added that the cause of the incident is so far unknown. Between 10 and 20 police vehicles and a helicopter arrived at the embassy shortly after the explosion was reported to the emergency services. The scene where the explosion took place and part of the residential compound have been closed to traffic, Czech Radio reported. Explosives experts with sniffer dogs have inspected the building. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the blast happened when the diplomat tried to open a safe that had been moved from the embassy’s old offices, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
There is no evidence that the explosion was a terrorist attack, said Zoulova. She added that the explosive might have been part of the security mechanism on the safe. “The possibilities include inexpert handling of an explosive device or its spontaneous detonation … The device was in a safe and was triggered after the door of the safe was opened. The police are not ruling out that the device was a part of the safe.” There are conflicting reports as to whether anyone else was injured in the blast. Reuters reported that the ambassador was the sole victim of the explosion, while some local media cited by Itar-Tass say a woman, supposedly the ambassador’s relative, was also injured in the blast, according to a spokesman for the Motol hospital, where she is being treated.
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