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Four hospitalized after huge fire engulfs commercial block in N Minneapolis

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Four people have been hospitalized after a massive fire engulfed a block of commercial buildings in North Minneapolis Wednesday morning.

A huge cloud of smoke billowed from the blaze that is believed to have originated at 913 W. Broadway, and the Minneapolis Fire Department had to withdraw its crews after the collapse of the building's second floor at around 9 a.m.

Fire crews remain at the scene, and the department reported just after midday that four people have been taken to Hennepin County Medical Center. Their conditions are not known at this stage.

The building at 913 West Broadway is currently occupied by short-term loan and check cashing provider The Unbank Company. KSTP reports that it then spread to at least three other buildings, among them the Neighborhoods Organizing for Change office.

"We are deeply saddened by the fire that devastated our block of West Broadway this morning," a statement from NOC said. "The NOC office was destroyed. Thankfully, none of NOC's staff were harmed by the fire. We're safe and thankful to be alive."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors and the residents of the building who have lost their homes. North Minneapolis, and this block on West Broadway, has been our home for the past three years."

The group has launched a campaign to raise $20,000 for the residents who have been displaced by the fire.

All adjacent and other nearby businesses were evacuated by firefighters and the gas supply to the buildings was shut off as crews fire to prevent it spreading further.

The Red Cross is also on the scene to provide support to those living above the commercial units, whose homes have been damaged in the fire.

"This is yet another devastating blow to our community after the tornado of 2011 destroyed much of North Minneapolis," Rep. Raymond Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis, said. "Broadway has continued to be an area where we’ve seen revival in North Minneapolis and I’m sure we’ll continue to see that spirit after this fire is extinguished."

Two businesses damaged in Anoka County

The blaze comes after a dozen fire departments battled a large fire that damaged two family-run businesses in Anoka County early Wednesday morning.

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“They are trying to get it knocked down. It’s been difficult,” an Anoka County dispatcher told the Star Tribune.

The fire along Lake Drive Northeast in Columbus Township is located in a rural area with no fire hydrants, reports say.

Crews were forced to transport water to the scene in order to fight the fire, KSTP says.

Running Aces Horse Track is about a 6.6 mile drive from the scene of the fire, Google Maps shows.

Lake Drive Northeast is closed between Pine Street and 141st Avenue, and isn't expected to reopen before noon, reports note.

The fire is believed to have started at Waldoch Collision around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Star Tribune says. The fire also affected nearby Bergen's Greenhouses, reports note.

Witnesses reported hearing explosions around the time the fire started, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office told the Star Tribune. Smoke could be seen about a half-mile from the fire scene, FOX 9 reports.

Bergen's Greenhouses is a family-run business with another location in Detroit Lakes. The company's website says its Minnesota locations are home to the first retractable-roof greenhouses in the Upper Midwest.

Some tweets from the scene:

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Fire at Pease Produce

Pictures posted on social media show the result of a fire that has caused extensive damage to dairy company Pease Produce.

The business' building in Pease, Minnesota, appears to have been gutted by the blaze.

More details from the local fire department is expected to be released later Wednesday morning.

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