Fire destroys construction site near Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota

A project that broke ground in November of 2019 only took hours Tuesday to partly burn to the ground.   A $68-million project on 2.4 acres across from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul went up in flames that could be seen for miles.

The first call came in at 4:20am, according to St. Paul Fire Chief Butch Inks.   When first crews arrived, they saw flames inside the five-story under-construction hotel.  But they grew so fast, crews could only attack from the outside.

“Because of the point it was in construction and the wood frame construction, it spread rather quickly,” Inks told Fox 9.  “And we had roughly about 20 companies here working through the night.”

The Seven Corners Gateway project is two buildings on what had been a long-time surface parking lot in downtown St. Paul.  In addition to the Courtyard by Marriot hotel, a six-story apartment building is also under construction.  A courtyard between the two buildings helped serve as a fire break, so the fire didn’t spread to the apartment building.

“We had set up trucks to keep it from jumping into that other area,” said Chief Inks, “and they were successful, that the apartment building, the apartment part of the process, was saved.”

The intensity of the fire broke windows on the Dorothy Day Residence to the north and melted the X on the Xcel Energy Center’s sign to the east.

The developer, Kaeding Development, and the general contractor, Doran Companies, say their focus is making the site safe so authorities can investigate the cause.

The Minnesota State Fire Marshall and the ATF are part of the investigation.