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Condition of burned Minneapolis liquor store cuts short search for possible body

Liz Sawyer, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in News & Features

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minneapolis firefighters returned Tuesday to the burned-out remains of a Lake Street liquor store to search for a body after witnesses reported that a man didn't make it out when the building was torched during last week's riots in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Crews inspected the twisted heap of metal at the intersection of Minnehaha Avenue and East Lake Street once more, but their efforts were short-lived.

"Due to the condition of the building, a thorough search is no longer possible," said Assistant Fire Chief for Operations Bryan Tyner.

Before curfew Saturday, bystanders assessing the wreckage outside the 3rd Precinct in south Minneapolis stopped to watch two good Samaritans thrashing through the rubble of Minnehaha Liquors, searching for the body of a man they believe was buried in debris.

Onlookers heard the art deco building collapse just before midnight Thursday, after being ravaged by flames. Several bystanders yelled that someone hadn't it made out in time.

Brandon Wolfe quickly grabbed an ax and bashed it against the shop's frame trying to reach the person, but was pushed back by flames. If someone was trapped, the person would not make it out alive.


Wolfe returned Saturday and, along with a stranger, continued to search, sifting through mangled iron and aluminum that had collapsed to the basement level.

Minneapolis police and firefighters scoured the rubble Friday night after receiving a report about the man trapped inside. But a name for the man was never provided and first responders found no trace of him, authorities said.

Tyner was not aware that citizens kept that search alive until contacted by a Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter. He cautioned against anymore do-gooders climbing down into the debris.

"I'd rather have them call us so we can assume the risk. It's dangerous," Tyner said, adding that many of the buildings destroyed during last week's riots have become unstable.


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