KEY POINTS

  • The building was dedicated to low-income people as a shelter. 
  • The fire broke out early Christmas morning. 
  • At least 200  people were evacuated.

More than 200 low-income residents were evacuated after the Francis Drake hotel in Minneapolis, which serves as temporary housing for homeless people, was engulfed by fire Wednesday morning. The blaze, which sprang up in the wee hours of Christmas morning, grew into four alarms at full speed, Minneapolis fire officials said.

The fire started at around 4:00 a.m. EST Wednesday and grew enormous leaving the fire officials battle it until mid-afternoon.

It first erupted on the second floor and then spread to the third floor. As soon as the crew extinguished the fire in those two floors, it spread to the attic and eventually tore through the roof, John Fruetel, Minneapolis Fire chief, told CBS Minnesota.

“These people can least afford this kind of an issue,” Fruetel said. “When you look behind us, all of what they have is going to be destroyed." 

The residents were kept warm on Metro Transit buses when the firefighters tried to tame the blazes. The Metro transit assigned five buses for the purpose.

"We're glad to do this small part to help the communities we serve in their time of need,” Howie Padilla, a Metro Transit spokesman, told CNN

“It’s just devastating to see what’s happening, a lot of kids, no clothes. A lot of parents, no clothes,” Natalie Olson, a resident at the hotel, said. 

Three people with minor injuries were transported to a hospital. One person among them suffered smoke inhalation and the other two sustained minor injuries while evacuating. 

The building in Hennepin County was dedicated to the have-nots as a shelter. Minnesota Red Cross is currently trying to arrange temporary shelter for those evacuated.

"The only word that comes to mind this morning is heartbreaking. As our firefighters work to contain the blaze, at the Francis Drake Hotel, we already know several hundred lives have been changed. People will need help, and they will need it immediately," Jacob Frey, Minneapolis Mayor, said in a tweet

The Minnesota Red Cross has posted an appeal on Twitter seeking donations to help the needy. 

firefighters In this photo, first responders assess the scene of a fire at Trump Tower on April 7, 2018, in New York City. Photo: Getty Images / Eduardo Munoz Alvarez