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Fire that engulfed N. Minneapolis block may have been arson, investigators say

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Investigators say a massive fire that engulfed a commercial block in north Minneapolis in April, destroying three buildings, may have been started deliberately.

Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel and city police arson investigator Sgt. Sean McKenna addressed the media Tuesday morning in front of the blackened shell left behind after the fire on West Broadway Avenue April 15.

They issued a public appeal for information, saying that samples collected from the scene by the Minneapolis Bureau of Criminal Apprehension found traces of an accelerant, Minneapolis Police department


A representative of Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (MN NOC), whose offices were destroyed in the blaze, also spoke during the media call, along with residents living in apartments on the block at the time of the fire.

"I lost everything but my life. We need the public to help solve it," a former resident named Terrence said, according to the MN NOC.

Sgt. McKenna said the ignitable substance found in the investigation was a terpene,

">MN NOC tweeted.

According to question and answer website WiseGeek, terpenes are found naturally in plants and trees and are commonly used in medicinal oils and medical products such as antiseptics and expectorants.

WebMD notes that turpentine oil – a mixture of several terpenes – counts paint stripper among its several applications, while the Royal Society of Chemistry says terpenes are also used in fragrances and cleaning products, while

Anyone with information about the fire should call police and fire authorities at 1-800-723-2020.

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