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Fire burns businesses, apartments on Main Street in Melrose

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A central Minnesota town will be cleaning up the ashes this weekend after the second major fire of the year in Melrose.

According to WJON firefighters spent hours battling the blaze at 4th Ave. and Main St. beginning just after 12:30 p.m. The buildings on that downtown block have shops on the ground floor with apartments above.

The radio station, which posted video of the fire, says crews from neighboring Sauk Centre and Freeport joined the fight but were unable to prevent a roof collapse at one of the buildings.

The owner of the Unique Boutique told the St. Cloud Times his was one of about seven businesses affected by the fire.

Jeffrey Engelking told the Times: “It’s a terrible loss to the community. They’re such historic buildings. Generations and generations grew up seeing these buildings and now they’re gone. There’s lots of displaced families that have nowhere to go.”

While the American Red Cross will provide temporary shelter for families displaced by the fire, they were getting help Thursday from the Central Minnesota Credit Union, which is around the corner from the block that burned.

6 months after church fire

Melrose is a town of fewer than 4,000 people and it's dealing with its second major fire of 2016.

In March there was a fire at the Church of St. Mary, which was built in 1898 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Investigators suspect that blaze was set and there is a reward for information leading to a conviction.

As WJON notes, church leaders are deciding whether to rebuild St. Mary's as it formerly looked or use the rebuild to renovate the church. They held a meeting on that topic the very night before the downtown fire broke out.

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