Firefighters battling downtown Winona blaze

  • KARE11 reports "7-8 buildings are either destroyed or heavily damaged. A dozen people with apartments in the impacted buildings have been displaced, and are being housed at Winona State University and a local hotel."
  • The latest story from the AP:

    Winona firefighters stop blaze from spreading

    WINONA, Minn. (AP) _ Firefighters appear to have the upper hand as a large blaze burns in downtown Winona.

    Fire crews have largely stopped the spread of the fire that began about 2 a.m. Friday and has burned several buildings.

    Winona Fire Chief Curt Bittle says the fire may have started in the Islamic Center, but added the ignition point and source have yet to be determined.

    Police say residents of apartments on the upper floors of some downtown buildings were safely evacuated. The Winona Daily News (http://bit.ly/189zm8d ) says there are no reports of injuries.

    Buildings that house Brosnahan Law Firm, Sole Sport and Integrative Health are among those heavily damaged by fire.

    The Red Cross is assisting those who fled from their apartments.
  • Firefighters battle a blaze in several downtown buildings early Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Winona, Minn. (AP Photo/Winona Daily News, Andrew Link)

  • Another view of firefighters at work early this morning in Winona. (AP Photo/Winona Daily News, Andrew Link)

  • Buildings that house Brosnahan Law Firm, Sole Sport and Integrative Health are among those heavily damaged by fire. (AP Photo/Winona Daily News, Andrew Link)

  • Smoke continues to billow out from the fire. Winona Daily News just added this photo to their Facebook page.
  • The latest from MPR News reporter Tim Nelson:

    A block in the center of downtown Winona has been heavily damaged by fire this morning.

    Paul Brosnahan, an attorney, says he got a call early this morning that a fire started in the Islamic Center next door and was threatening his office. He says police told him that the fire was spotted shortly before 2 a.m. and was spreading from building to building and would be difficult to stop. Brosnahan says some of the buildings date back more than 120 years.

    "I happen to have an apartment above my building, and the three young ladies are from the Twin Cities," he said. "They’re sophomores at Winona State, and they’re all safe. And that was of course my first question. The Red Cross is there. They’re putting these people up, they’re feeding them, they’re trying to help these people get it back together."

    No injuries have been reported so far. Authorities have not yet confirmed how the blaze may have started.

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  • Mohamed Elhindi, president of the Islamic Center of Winona, says the center and the three people renting the apartment on the building's 2nd floor lost everything in the fire. The center's leaders will meet this evening to talk about what to do in the meantime. A local methodist church provided space to the center for today's prayers. "The community has been very supportive," Elhindi said.

    Elhindi said he was waiting for investigators to do their work. Officials said they don't know for sure if the fire started at the center. If the fire did start at the center, Elhindi said leaders had no reason to suspect the fire was anything but an accident. "We are in a very supportive community," he said. "That's something that isn't even crossing our minds."
  • Jim Trouten from the Public Insight Network shared this early morning video of the fire with MPR News. It captures some of the more intense moments of the fire.

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