Investigators unable to pinpoint cause of Minneapolis fire that killed 5


An investigation by the State Fire Marshal was unable to determine the cause of a Valentine's Day blaze that killed five children at a north Minneapolis duplex.

The Associated Press reports the Fire Marshal identified where the fire started – the center of the building's second floor – but not how it was ignited.

The Fire Marshal says the investigation remains open. Find the 21-page report here.

The fire gutted the home where Troy Lewis lived with his seven children. Lewis and two of his daughters, Shaca and Electra (right), were hospitalized with injuries but survived the blaze.

The five victims ranged in age from 18 months to 8 years. Hennepin County's medical examiner determined they died of burns and smoke inhalation.

The Star Tribune reported this week that a lawyer representing Lewis and his family is preparing a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner of the property, Paul Bertelson. The attorney for Bertelson's company, Mission Inn Minnesota, declined to comment to the newspaper about the prospect of a lawsuit.

Another former tenant of the building has already filed a lawsuit against Bertelson. Dianna Shonville Jones, who lived there before Lewis, accuses Bertelson of financial malfeasance but also alleges he had failed to respond to reports of a faulty electrical system.

Lewis has said his apartment lacked heat, prompting him to buy a space heater to keep his family warm. He says the heater was in the center of the apartment, which is where the Fire Marshal says the fire started. Lewis contends he had alerted the landlord to the lack of heat more than once but Bertelson denies that.

The Star Tribune says Lewis' attorney has asked a court to appoint a trustee on behalf of the family, which is a first step toward a lawsuit.

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