Students safe after Dinkytown house fire

Angela Gray

Glass shards and pieces of burned wood paneling surround 1117 Eighth St. S.E., where a fire broke out early Sunday morning, leaving the house condemned.

Around 1:15 a.m., Andy Cary, a political science sophomore, said he was in the back of the house when he heard neighbors frantically yelling that they saw flames coming out of the front of the house.

ìI tried to run upstairs but there was too much smoke,” he said. ìI ended up getting out through the back door.”

By 1:31 a.m. the Minneapolis Fire Department was called and around 2 a.m. the fire was put out.

No one was seriously injured in the fire.

The fire department spoke with the seven housemates, all University sophomores, the morning of the fire and has not determined a cause.

Tenants speculated the fire started either on the front porch or front bedroom of the house.

Numerous calls to fire and police officials were not returned and no official police or fire department reports were released, although further investigation is ongoing.

Tom Dobberke, a business sophomore, said none of the seven housemates know what might have caused the fire.

ìWeíre all still in shock,” he said. ìAfter calling all the housemates and explaining what happened, everyone was in disbelief.”

Dobberke said that after the blaze the roommates ended up scattered, sleeping at different friendsí houses for the night.

ìThere were flames and fire hoses coming out of every window,” he said. ìIt was just so awful, there is really no way to describe it.”

Cary said it was like a large earthquake came through their house.

ìRight now weíre trying to get our things out before the upstairs collapses.”

Drew Dietz, business and marketing sophomore, said there is unfixable damage done to the entire house.

ìOur three-season porch was ruined, there is smoke damage upstairs and my bike melted,” he said.

Dietz said their landlord, of The Miles Group, is out of town, but one of the maintenance workers has set up temporary housing for the seven tenants on 15th Street and Rollins Avenue Southeast.

ìThey have been very quick and good at taking care of this,” he said.

Only a few of the housemates have renterís insurance.

The housemates all said they disabled their smoke detectors, so Cary, the only one in the house at the time, didnít realize the house was on fire until he heard the neighbors yelling.

Minneapolis housing inspectors looked at the house in 2003 as part of a safety sweep.

According to data from Minneapolis Regulatory Services, at least one violation was found during the safety sweep involving the need for an exterior handrail. The Minneapolis inspections division inspected about 900 Marcy-Holmes and Como Southeast neighborhood rental properties in fall 2003 and early 2004 after a September house fire killed three University students.

The owner holds an approved rental license for the property, according to Minneapolis property information.

Friends, family and bystanders helped the housemates move some of their salvageable belongings and watched as the address numbers ì1117″ melted to the ground.

ó Brady Averill contributed to this report.