City in shock after downtown Winona fire

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Residents of Winona are in shock following an early morning fire that destroyed three buildings in the city's historic downtown.

WCCO TV reports that Winona Mayor Mark Peterson said there is a hole in the downtown, and the city will work with displaced businesses. In all six businesses were affected by the fire, including the Winona Islamic Center where the fire is believed to have started.

Some of the buildings destroyed in the fire were built in the 1800's, one was on the national register of historic places.

Peterson said the last major fire in downtown Winona was back in 1862, following it the city had to rebuild the entire block.

No foul play is suspected in the fire.

Crews on Friday afternoon were hauling away the wreckage of the buildings as they tried to get to the fire's source, the newspaper reported.

The Daily News has photos and video from the scene as part of extensive coverage.

No injuries were reported. Emergency responders credit residents in upstairs apartments who went door-to-door to inform fellow tenants of the emergency.

An investigation of the cause of the fire is under way.

Ahmed El-Afandi, who founded the mosque in 1993, tells the Star Tribune that the religious center is "pretty much gone."

From the Daily News:

Video posted by Jim Trouten from the Public Insight Network, shared with MPR News:

MPR produced a live blog to chronicle the blaze.

Among the businesses that suffered damage or complete loss: Blooming Grounds, Sole Sport, Integrative Health and Brosnahan Law Firm.

Firefighters said they had difficulty fighting the quick-moving blaze due to the configuration of the connected old buildings.

Minnesota Public Radio posted a map of blocks affected by the fire so far.

Several media outlets are on the scene reporting on the blaze.

Minnesota State Sen. Jeremy Miller also tweeted a photo of smoke rising from the scene from afar.

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