MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Nineteen hours after it started, a fire continued to burn Christmas night at a building that houses the homeless in downtown Minneapolis.
Firefighters got the call around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning. They say the fire started on the second floor of the Drake Hotel, located on the 400 block of 10th Street South, and quickly spread through the building. Flames could be seen shooting from the roof in the pre-dawn hours.
First responders brought three people to the hospital, and all are expected to recover. No one was killed in the fire.
Still, more than 200 people, many of them children, are now without a place to stay.
When local officials called on Minnesotans to bring supplies – diapers, socks, mittens, blankets -- for the displaced people, the response was immediate and overwhelming.
"I've lived in Minnesota a long time and I've never seen anything like this here," said Tiana Terry, one of the fire victims. "So, this made me have more hope in my city."
Terry, her husband and 5-month-old daughter were given diapers, clothes, blankets and gloves donated by generous strangers.
"This really made my day, this alone really made my day," she said.
In just a few hours, so many supply donations came in that officials had to stop accepting them. Instead, they asked people to give money.
Some who brought supplies stayed at the scene to help sort and divvy everything out. Meanwhile, those who lost everything in the fire were able to keep warm on Metro Transit buses parked nearby.
"Minneapolis is awesome," said Adrienne Tousignant, a volunteer who helped with the donations.
Over in Cottage Grove, brothers Andrew and Brandon Brundidge saw the call for help.
"I decided we should take some of our Christmas gifts and donate them to the kids and people that lost things in the fire, since they're probably having a rough Christmas," Andrew Brundidge said.
He gave his autographed Kyrie Irving basketball sneakers to one of the children.
"I wanted to give them to a kid to help inspire him and help him keep pushing through tough times," Andrew Brundidge said.
Brandon Brundidge donated his new Uno card game
"I decided to give it away because I was so excited to play it," he said.
These donations may not fix everything, but they certainly provided hope.
Fire crews expect to remain on scene of the fire overnight and into Thursday, putting out hot spots. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
How You Can Help
The Red Cross is assisting those displaced by the fire. For the next few nights, they will stay at the nearby Bethlehem Baptist Church. Donations can be made to the Minnesota Red Cross.
Additionally, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey says the Minneapolis Foundation has set up a fund specifically for the displaced residents and families. Those who wish to donate can do so here.
Frey stopped by the scene of the fire on Christmas day.
"These are real people that need a roof over their heads, that need help," the mayor said. "Of all the buildings in the entire city, this is the one that's got to go up in flames right now?"
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