Fire at historic Harris Machinery warehouse started near elevator shaft

The Minneapolis Fire Department says a fire at the vacant, historic Harris Machinery warehouse started on the second floor, near an elevator shaft. The exact cause of the fire has not been determined.

“The investigation does continue when it's undetermined,” said Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner. “Arson investigators are looking through the evidence that they've gotten already. We actually had to go back out there this morning to put out some more hot spots.”

The fire at the two-story brick warehouse at 501 30th Ave SE was reported at 4:39 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17.  The fire went to two alarms due to the volume of fire and the need for firefighter rotations due to the subzero weather conditions. Crews worked through the night Sunday into Monday to extinguish the fire using master streams, and returned to the warehouse Tuesday morning to extinguish hot spots that re-ignited after smoldering over the weekend.

The building itself dates to 1870, originally part of a railroad factory. Unused now for a few years, it became a favorite of urban explorers and squatters. The old warehouse is not slated for restoration by Minneapolis developer the Wall Companies, who had envisioned a technology research center on the site. Restoration work had not yet started.