MARSHALL - The tenants of a Marshall apartment complex, including families with children, have been left homeless after the Saturday night fire. While the local chapter of the Red Cross stepped in to help the complex's 21 residents find temporary shelter, existing funds won't stretch very far, Red Cross representatives said.
A fire was reported at 7:19 p.m. Saturday at an apartment building at 307 South 5th Street. The eight apartments in the complex were home to a total of 21 people, including five children younger than five, said Colleen Grothem of the Prairie Winds chapter of the American Red Cross. The tenants were not allowed to go back to their apartments after the fire.
"Nobody was hurt, so that's positive," Marshall Fire Chief Marc Klaith said of the incident. However, he said it's not likely that much will be salvageable from the building. "There was significant fire and smoke damage in there."
Photo by Deb Gau
Firefighters cut holes in the roof of an apartment building on South 5th Street in Marshall, during a fire on Saturday night.
None of the building's tenants had renters insurance, Klaith said.
Klaith said the fire looked like it started in a bathroom in one of the lower-level apartments. Preliminary investigations point toward it being an electrical fire, he said.
Mary Lou Peterson, one of the owners of the apartment building, said Monday she was still waiting to learn whether the building could be repaired, and if it will be possible for tenants to retrieve some of their belongings.
Grothem said most of the building tenants spent Saturday night at the Marshall National Guard Armory, and then were moved to hotel rooms. The tenants were non-English speakers, Grothem said, and Red Cross representatives worked with the help of a community member who volunteered to interpret.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order on Monday declaring a state of emergency for the fire. The order gave approval for members of the Minnesota National Guard to give temporary shelter to displaced residents. However, Grothem said, the tenants only spent one night at the Armory.
"We were surprised by it," Grothem said of Dayton's order.
She said it's likely the executive order was officially needed to shelter people at the Armory.
Grothem said the Red Cross also gave victims of the fire some money for food and clothing, but acknowledged that it won't meet all their needs. The residents' hotel reservations also end today, she said.
"Right now these folks have nothing," Grothem said.
Grothem said the Red Cross has contacted other agencies like the Salvation Army and local groups like the Refuge. However, monetary donations to the Red Cross are welcomed. Grothem said the Red Cross is also looking for property owners who may have rental space available for any of the people affected by the fire. Some of the displaced residents work at Turkey Valley Farms and commute by foot, so a potential residence would need to be within walking distance of the plant on 6th Street.
Monetary donations for the fire victims can be sent to the Prairie Winds chapter of the American Red Cross in Marshall. Grothem said checks should be made out to the Red Cross with a memo referencing the fire.