MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A fire did extensive damage to two houses Wednesday morning and left residents of a group home without a place to live.
It started just before noon on the 2700 block of Ensign Avenue in New Hope. The cloud of smoke could be seen for miles around. It was so heavy that when the wind shifted, visibility became limited.
"The fire quickly jumped from one house to another. It started in a group home and then within minutes, it spread to the house next door," West Metro Fire Chief Sarah Larson said. "We had to attack them defensively. So we had to put them out from the outside."
While it's unclear what caused the fire, what is known is that it started in this group home managed by Opportunity Partners. Three men with special needs have lived there for nearly 20 years. One of them was home at the time, along with a caretaker, who was doing laundry when he smelled smoke.
"He came upstairs, noticed there was a fire. Immediately went to get one of the residents who was in his bedroom. Had a little bit of trouble getting him out. He was in a lot of shock," Doug Annett, with Opportunity Partners, said. "Our staff was pretty shaken up. the guy who lives here was pretty shaken up."
Luckily, they got out safely, but medication, medical equipment, and clothing were all destroyed in the fire, along with vehicles that helped transport the residents. While Annett says they're lucky no one was hurt in either house, he thinks the road to rebuild will be a long one.
"It's going to be difficult. Like I said they've been living here almost 20 years. they are going to lose a lot of stuff. Right now everybody is just in shock," Annett said.
Opportunity Partners will be asking for clothing donations for the three men and they'll also be looking to replace the van that was lost in the fire. If you would like to help, click here.
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