Fire destroys Dinkytown apartment

Smoke and water damaged other apartments above Espresso Royale on Friday.

A firefighter hands over a cat rescued from the building to a resident of the apartment that caught on fire on Friday afternoon in Dinkytown.

Image by Bridget Bennett

A firefighter hands over a cat rescued from the building to a resident of the apartment that caught on fire on Friday afternoon in Dinkytown.

by Meghan Holden

An apartment above Espresso Royale in Dinkytown caught fire Friday afternoon. No injuries were reported, according to the Minneapolis Fire Department.

The cause of the fire is unknown and is being investigated, according to fire department Battalion Chief Steve Dziedzic.

Crews responded to a report of a building fire at 411 14th Ave. SE at 12:44 p.m. Friday, according to a news release.

Dziedzic said the fire started on the second floor in one of several units in the two-story building. That apartment was “completely destroyed,” while the others have smoke damage, he said.

Espresso Royale store manager Rex Vogen said the shop sustained minor damage, mostly from water, including a ceiling panel that collapsed from water pressure upstairs.

The coffee shop closed over the weekend and reopened Sunday after approval from the Minneapolis Health Department, Vogen said.

“We got things cleaned up really, really quickly,” he said. “It was wonderful.”

A fire department official on the scene said no one was inside the apartment when the fire started. Firefighters rescued the three cats and one dog that were inside the unit during the fire.

Several fire trucks, police and paramedics were on the scene, and more than 10 firefighters took turns going into the building.

Thick, black smoke poured out of the second-floor windows as a couple dozen onlookers watched.

University of Minnesota student Phoebe Gulling lives in the building and was sitting in her room when she started to smell melting plastic and smoke.

She left her room and found her roommate already on the phone with police.

“And then we came down and there were flames coming out of the window,” she said.

Vogen said he could smell smoke in the coffee shop when passerby Andrew Baldridge came in and yelled at customers to get out.

Vogen said he evacuated the building and called 911.

“Management could have been a little quicker on their response when somebody comes in and says, ‘There’s a fire upstairs,’” Baldridge said.

Agriculture and food business management senior Brad Reimann was getting coffee in Espresso Royale when it was evacuated.

“We went outside, and glass started breaking from the window and almost hit people,” he said. “We backed to the other side of the street and it progressively got worse.”

Dinkytown Business Association President Skott Johnson said the community will work to support Espresso Royale.

“It’s tough on small businesses,” he said. “We’ll be there for them.”

Nicholas Studenski
contributed to this report.