ATF joins investigation into fire at vacant Minneapolis apartment building

After a large fire over the weekend at a vacant Minneapolis apartment building, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced on Monday it will assist local authorities in the investigation.

The ATF's National Response Team has been activated to assist with determining the cause of the fire, which authorities say caused $1.8 million in damage.

Officials say the ATF team is joining the investigation due to the extensive fire damage and the "size and scope of the investigation."

"Investigating fires in the winter can pose unique challenges, and the National Response Team resources can help with some of those additional winter-imposed hurdles," wrote Special Agent in Charge William McCrary with the St. Paul Field Division in a statement. "The team’s mission here is to collaboratively assist the Minneapolis Fire Department, the Minneapolis Police Department, and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division, in the determination of the cause of the fire."

The Minneapolis Fire Department said crews battled a blaze Saturday morning at a vacant four-story apartment building with "squatters" inside.  (FOX 9 / FOX 9)

Firefighters responded around 6 a.m. on Saturday morning to the fire on the 2300 block of Lyndale Avenue South. At the building, officers found heavy smoke coming from the second floor and fire on two different floors.

Fire crews evacuated the building, which is supposed to be vacant, but investigators say had several squatters living inside. One of the people inside jumped from the second floor to get to safety.

Crews worked for hours to knock down the flames on Saturday. Investigation into the fire was continuing on Monday.

The National Response Team has assisted Minnesota investigation multiple times in recent years, including the arson fire at the Press Bar, an arson at a St. Paul hotel that was under construction, and arsons set during the 2020 riots.