1 year after devastating Cedar-Riverside fire

It has been a year since smoke and water damage closed the Dar Al-Hijra mosque, and the hole that's created in Cedar Riverside's Somali community is almost as devastating as the one left by the deadly fire next door.

"It was a big tragedy we had," Wali Dirie, with the Islamic Society of America, said. "And also the mosque being closed is another tragedy."

Last New Year's Day, flames raced through the Cedar Avenue apartment building in subzero temperatures, killing three people and injuring 14 others.

"I remember there was an explosion and suddenly all the windows were gone, debris flying and there was smoke and fire everywhere," Hassan said.

Through an interpreter, Hassan explained how he jumped from the second floor to escape, breaking his leg in three different places during it.

"It's a very gloomy day tomorrow," Hassan said. "It will be the one year anniversary of the day I lost everything."

Since then, Hassan hasn't been able to work or get much sleep because he re-lives what happened almost every night. But the biggest nightmare for him and many of the other survivors is figuring out how they're going to pay rent each month, after losing their livelihoods as a result of the fire.

"Everyone moved forward but we got stuck, and yes unintentionally we have been forgotten," Hassan said.

The mosque is in the middle of a facelift that should be finished in a couple of months -- but Somali leaders say re-modeling the community gathering place is much easier than re-building people's lives.

"We want to move forward to have it the same way it used to be," Dirie said. "Or maybe better."

Investigators never determined a cause for the fire and they say they may never know how it started.

A New Year's Day fundraiser to help pay for the mosque remodel raised about $40,000. Organizers say they need about $100,000 more to reopen the mosque.