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Minneapolis Explosion Sends 14 To Hospitals

9:42 AM, Jan 2, 2014   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS (KARE) -- Firefighters battled flames and frigid temperatures when a building in Minneapolis exploded Wednesday morning.

A total of 14 people were taken to two Minneapolis hospitals with six suffering critical injuries.

Investigators are still working on a cause of the fire. The city's arson team is leading the investigation and the Minneapolis fire chief said nothing has been ruled out at this point.

The Red Cross is assisting people who have been displaced.

At an afternoon news conference, city leaders who spoke with some of the injured in the hospitals Wednesday pledged their support for the victims and their families.

The temperature was below zero, the fire was three stories above, and the combination of the two extremes, fire and ice, forced firefighters to take extra precautions.

"Just the physical demands of the job certainly change when we get a lot of ice and snow and this kind of stuff," explained Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel.

A temperature so cold, stuff like ladders freeze over, nozzles on pumps and other equipment also freeze and then there's the firefighters themselves, where any exposed skin can cause frost bite.

To prevent injuries, the chief said when the temperature is below zero they designate a warm area for firefighters to go to.

A place, whether in a truck or building, where crews can rotate in and out when needed.

But even with the best plan of attack, the amount of time it takes to knock down the flames grows considerably longer, as the temperature deeps considerably colder.

"If you try to advance a heavy hose line on an ice skating rink, you know it's very challenging, its hard to move, it's hard to move equipment it just makes it that much slower," explained Fruetel.

Firefighters worked all morning long, slow and steady, to combat the flames. Chief Fruetel said there may have been a slip or two and a fall because of the ice that collected, but there were no injuries to firefighters.

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