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5 siblings dead in early morning north Minneapolis duplex fire

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Five children were killed in an early Friday morning fire at a duplex in north Minneapolis. Fire crews responded to the scene at 2818 Colfax Avenue around 5 a.m. Friday.

KSTP reports Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said three of the children were pronounced dead at the scene of the fire. According to the report, Freutel said five others were taken to local hospitals, including 60-year-old Troy Lewis.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office says two of the five victims taken to local hospitals later died. The Star Tribune reports Lewis has been upgraded to satisfactory condition at Hennepin County Medical Center and his daughters Shaca and Electra Lewis were in critical condition on Friday evening.

Lewis lived on the second floor of the duplex with his seven children.

The Pioneer Press reports a school spokesman confirmed two of the deceased children were in first and second grade at Bethune Community School in Minneapolis.

The cause of the Friday morning fire is still under investigation. According to the Star Tribune, Freutel said there's been no indication that would lead us to believe anything out of the ordinary."

The fire is believed to have started in the center of the second floor then spread to the first and third floors of the duplex.

Fruetel said firefighters initially encountered heavy smoke in the three-story building, which quickly changed to flames. He said firefighters attempted to rescue the people inside the building in what he called very precarious conditions, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

Fifteen people were living at the duplex. FOX 9 reports a couple and their 5 children lived downstairs and were able to escape the fire. The family was treated at the scene and is being assisted with help finding a temporary shelter by the Red Cross, according to the report.

“The entire community is affected by this fire,” Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said. “We need to rally together on behalf of the folks here. This is a tragic moment for the city of Minneapolis, a tragic moment for North Minneapolis and a tragic moment for this neighborhood and family.”

According to the Star Tribune, the building was last inspected in July 2013 when numerous violations were found, including a smoke detector that needed to be repaired. A city spokesman says necessary repairs were completed last November and the property was given a new rental license a week ago.

The more than 100-year-old building is owned by Mission Inn Minnesota Inc., a company that rehabs properties and signs on low-income families as occupants.

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