The cause of the fire is still under investigation. At a news conference Thursday afternoon, the Minneapolis fire chief said the fire in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood was most likely caused by a natural gas leak.The story also indicates:
... Fire Chief John Fruetel said Thursday afternoon that witness accounts of a natural gas smell and the explosion strongly suggest that gas was involved.
... A spokeswoman for the natural gas utility CenterPoint Energy strongly discounted natural gas as a likely cause.
“We had no natural gas in the area,” said Rebecca Virden, basing her information on CenterPoint’s own investigation and testing in the area.
If it were attributed to natural gas, Virden added, “the roof would come off, the walls would come out.”
She offered that if there was a gas involved, “it could be a different type of gas.”
Asked about CenterPoint’s denial, Fruetel said, “I’m just basing it on what my investigators say.”
He said officials haven’t determined it was natural gas, but said that is what they’re focused on.
The chief called the scene an active investigation that has early on ruled out any signs of an explosive device. Homeland Security personnel were on the scene in the aftermath of the fire that sent 14 people to hospitals, six in critical condition.
The building housed the Otanga grocery store. The apartments above it were apparently all occupied by single men, most of them East African immigrants, a resident said. ...
... Ahmed Muse, one of five owners of the Otanga grocery store, said he arrived at the store at 8 a.m. Wednesday. There was what he called “an electrical shock” in the building, and police were called. When he went outside to talk to the officers, an explosion erupted on the second floor, blowing out the windows and scattering glass on the street below.Weasel Zippers has some additional non-conforming facts.
Update (1/4/2014): Gates of Vienna gathers more on this story.