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UPDATED: 5 killed in North Minneapolis duplex fire

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By Joseph Lindberg

St. Paul Pioneer Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Five people are dead — at least three of them children — and one firefighter injured after an early-morning fire in North Minneapolis.

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More than 40 firefighters converged in the 2800 block of Colfax Avenue North in the Hawthorne area of Minneapolis once the fire was reported shortly after 5 a.m. Friday, said Assistant Fire Chief Cherie Penn.

The identities of the victims have not yet been released. The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office announced the fatality total late Friday morning.

Heavy smoke and flames were pouring from the second floor of the 2.5-story home when crews arrived. The fire grew quickly, weakening the structure and challenging firefighters already coping with frigid temperatures.

“Our firefighters worked in very precarious conditions,” Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said.

The building was up to code, according to Fruetel. It was inspected by the city last summer and issued a new rental license a week ago.

While the inspection report showed a variety of minor violations — including a call to repair smoke detectors — all were fixed, Minneapolis city spokesman Matt Laible said.

Fifteen people lived at the address, fire officials said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The Office of Pipeline Safety is assisting Minneapolis authorities in the investigation, according to the Minnesota fire marshal’s office.

The condition of the injured firefighter was not immediately known Friday.

Others injured in the fire were taken to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale and Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

The total number of people injured, or the extent of their injuries, was not immediately known.

The Red Cross is offering aid to those affected by the fire.fire.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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