Fire at former Kmart building on Lake Street in Minneapolis

Fire at former Kmart building on Lake Street

Fire at former Kmart building on Lake Street

A massive fire broke out at the former Kmart building that cuts Nicollet Avenue in two in south Minneapolis on Friday morning.

A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew at the scene first captured video of the blaze shortly after 5 a.m.

The Minneapolis Fire Department confirmed a second alarm was called out and the back part of the building collapsed as crews worked to extinguish the flames.

Assistant Minneapolis Fire Chief Melanie Rucker said crews would typically have entered the building to search for any trapped victims but the collapse made that too dangerous and difficult, and it still wasn’t clear late Friday morning when that search would be able to happen.

However, the department said crews were able to do a “quick initial search” of areas that hadn’t collapsed and there wasn’t any indication of anybody being inside. However, a more thorough investigation will occur when the fire is completely out.

As of early Friday afternoon, crews were still at the scene, working to put out any hotspots that remained and were expected to remain at the site for most of the afternoon.

The store closed in 2020 and has been mostly vacant since then, except for a temporary U.S. Postal Service office, and the building was scheduled to be demolished next spring. However, after the fire, crews say that demolition will likely be moved up.

A spokesperson for the city, which owns the site, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that staff “completed a necessary, partial demolition of unstable walls” after the fire.

Staff will now seek approval from the Minneapolis City Council on the demolition contract so formal work can start, including proper disposal of any hazardous materials.

“The work will unfold as quickly as it can over the upcoming weeks and months,” the city spokesperson said.

The New Nicollet Redevelopment Project remains on track, according to the city.

It’s unclear what caused the fire at this time but that is under investigation.

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