A year later, Cedar-Riverside community still recovering from deadly blaze


A fundraiser to rebuild a mosque destroyed by fire was held Thursday, a year after the 2014 New Year's Day blaze that destroyed the building – killing three people and injuring 14 others.

Before the fundraiser began (held at the nearby Brian Coyle Community Center), the group had raised about $150,000 total, the Star Tribune reports, but needed $125,000 more to finish rebuilding and get the mosque open again in the next couple of months.

It's unclear how much money was raised at the event; about 100 people showed up, KARE 11 reports.

The fire displaced the mosque that was housed in the building. It had served about 300 worshipers. Rebuilding the mosque started in October and it is expected to reopen early this year.

The mosque's weekend Islamic school has been temporarily lodged at the Brian Coyle Community Center.

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Survivors speak about the blaze

KSTP talked to Abdi Qobey, 60, who survived after escaping from the building in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis that was gutted by the fire exactly one year ago. He broke his back and both his legs when he jumped to safety from a second-story apartment.

"In one second, an explosion," Qobey said, recalling the noise he heard just after his morning prayers. "Everything ... boom."

MPR News noted that while the building was demolished months ago, investigators still have not determined the cause of the explosion, and likely never will.

WCCO reported that while investigators found no evidence of foul play, Sgt. Sean McKenna of the Minneapolis Police Department’s arson unit indicated the cause "probably was a gas leak." CenterPoint Energy says it found no gas leaks in its system.

Assistant Minneapolis Fire Department Chief Cherie Penn said the investigation remains open, but added that in about 20 percent of cases, investigators can't say definitively how a fire started.

"Last year, January 1 was really a sad time," mosque board leader Abdisalam Adam told MPR. "But now, many people are looking forward to opening the mosque. The general mood is to be optimistic about the New Year."

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