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Support effort grows after more than 200 displaced by downtown fire

The Christmas Day fire has left families already struggling without anywhere to go.

The early morning fire in downtown Minneapolis has sparked a major effort to support more than 200 people who have found themselves with nowhere to stay on Christmas.

The fire at the Francis Drake Hotel apartments burned throughout Christmas morning, displacing scores of residents, many of whom were already homeless, with the apartment complex mainly used as an overflow shelter by Hennepin County.

Requests for donations were made early on Wednesday morning, and there was an overwhelming response.

Within hours of the blaze, Metro Transit buses were holding 240 people evacuated from the complex, with Hennepin County Commissioner Angela Conley among those issuing a call for diapers, socks and mittens.

A few hours later, the huge response meant that no more materials were needed.

In total, three residents were injured in the fire, with several more treated at the scene.

While donations have helped those suddenly without anywhere to stay, the challenge of finding them accommodation is proving more difficult, given that the Drake Hotel was already being used as an overflow shelter.

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Among those commenting on the fire is Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who said: "The only word that comes to mind this morning is heartbreaking.

"As our firefighters work to contain the blaze, at the Francis Drake Hotel, we already know several hundred lives have been changed. People will need help, and they will need it immediately."

After the fire had been knocked down in the lower levels of the complex, firefighters had to evacuate and fight it from the outside, after finding it had spread to the attic and roof.

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